Keys to Managing a Tech Startup

Managing a tech startup requires constant vigilance. They’re fast-paced, they’re facing a world of constantly changing technology and their best talent is always going to be at risk of jumping ship. Still, as daunting as your challenges might be, by building on what you do best, acknowledging the value of human capital and dealing with the business basics, you’ll be able to steer your venture toward success. Here are some smart moves to help you better manage your company.

Focus on Your Business Strategy

A Dramatic LeaderManaging a tech business means that change is a given. Innovation demands a keen focus on strategy and execution, and agility is necessary to deal with ever-increasing competition. Gather the troops and make sure your management team and employees understand your business strategy and vision. Take advantage of analytics and market research to tailor your product or service to the user. Structure your business to avoid silos. For example, get engineering and development teams used to brainstorming with sales and marketing.

Surround Yourself With Strong Talent

The best tech leaders understand that human capital is at the heart of their success. Make your life easier by carefully selecting people for your management team and key employees. Do that and running the operation will be much, much easier. Effective people management requires you to understand what motivates a skilled and exceedingly smart workforce. Create an environment where input is rewarded and learning is encouraged. And remember: While tech professionals might be known for their smarts, they aren’t necessarily known for their people skills. Offer training in communication and team building skills, so you can create a collaborative environment. Give incentives for bringing in key new hires, such as experienced developer and engineering talent. Make employee retention a big part of the process, since you don’t want to lose your best people.

Build the Right Culture

Once you’ve gotten the right people on board, remember that your startup has to be a place where employees want to produce. That doesn’t mean get the hacky sacks flying and offer free meals to everyone. The simple perks flowing in Silicon Valley aren’t the reasons why companies like Google and Facebook succeed. Yes, people like the bells and whistles, but it’s more about valuing their contribution and input. No one’s arguing that you should create a massive bureaucracy, just keep to the heart of what your employees know and love about working in tech by encouraging a creative and freeform environment. But remember to set up the necessary processes and a company hierarchy that holds people accountable and rewards employee effort.

Don’t Discount Nuts and Bolts

For someone more accustomed to coding than managing, handling the operational side of the business can be a daunting and not-so-thrilling task. But the nuts and bolts are just as critical to the success of a tech startup as is the product itself. You’ll need to keep a constant eye on working capital and cash flow, since the fiscal soundness of your company has to be a priority. You’ll deal with managing in a constant state of change, and you’ll have to tweak operating processes to deal with changes in business strategy. Make the management process easier by getting quality business leaders and serial entrepreneurs on your board and as investors in the firm, and let them help guide you through managing and building the business.

— Myra Thomas