How many entrepreneurs do you need to create total chaos? One is enough if you cannot cope. Krister Häll, CEO and co-founder of The Good Guys Kombucha and Sami Marttinen, CEO and co-founder of Swappie, a company that refurbishes and sells used iPhones, tell us how they manage to keep it all together.
CEO may sound like a great position, but in one-person businesses and startups, work is a far cry from sitting at executive team meetings enjoying coffee and cakes. When you have to remember a million things at once and, figuratively speaking, put out fires here and there every day, good advice is worth its weight in gold. Here are a few tips on how to control the chaos from The Good Guys Kombucha’s Krister Häll and Swappie’s Sami Marttinen.
Test ideas fast
Marttinen: “Don’t reflect on an idea for months on end. Test it and fail quickly. Try ten ideas at once and find a working solution instead of fine-tuning one idea for three months only to realise it is no good.”
Never hesitate to ask for advice
Häll: “A good partner is worth their weight in gold when you have heaps of things to manage. For instance, a good invoicing software will save you a lot of time and an accountant is a must. Just the other day, I had to send a payment reminder and I couldn’t remember the VAT rate. The answer was just one phone call away to my accountant.”
Marttinen: “Talk with others about your challenges and don’t hesitate to ask for help – but have the courage to challenge yourself as well. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of courage. However, don’t hire consultants to solve your problems. For an early stage startup, it is vital to learn yourself, and fast.
Software is a must
Häll: “Make use of software as early as you can for accounting, invoicing, stock management and eCommerce. Don’t start by doing everything manually for as long as you can. Make life easier with electronic tools. Use them right away!
Find a good team – and people who are smarter than you
Häll: “Recruit people to delegate work to. It is impossible as an entrepreneur to manage everything yourself. That’s why it is good to have skilled people, and outside help, close by to assist you. Make sure that you have a good network. For example, entrepreneurs in the same line of business can prove to be very useful when you need help.”
Marttinen: “Share the burden for instance with a good partner and find yourself a team that outsmarts you. We have found people who are smarter than us, the founders, in all sectors of the business, and most new ideas come from them. The same goes for stakeholders, advisors and investors, who provide counsel, help push things forward and share skills.”
To do lists – and checking them
Häll: “To do lists and regular checks of processes are important to keep the business progressing under control. We use a list with columns of work in progress, issues that need support and completed tasks. This helps everyone keep track of what is happening.”
Marttinen: “A project tool or just a list on paper posted on a wall helps the whole team keep track of things and schedules. It helps the team to know for instance how work is divided. Communication becomes increasingly vital the faster the business grows.”
Don’t forget to sort out the chaos inside your head
Häll: “If your personal life is not in order, it is difficult to manage your business. Regular rest, exercise and doing things you enjoy during your free time help you cope with the everyday grind of business.”
Marttinen: “Work-life balance is essential in order to cope. No matter what the situation is, exercise, rest, proper diet and relationships are crucial. Even though entrepreneurship is your passion, having these things in order help you manage, even if work might sometimes steal your attention from other aspects of life.”
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