While it's very easy to say that when startups are founded, there's a lot of freedom, liberty and access in terms of work and building the product, technology or service that they offer, it is also important to realize that most startups fail because they don't learn from their and others' mistakes.
It's imperative that the experience comes from a process. As a culture there are many things that work for us and some that don't. It could be something as simple as how efficiently the Dabbawallas manage their business with as little paperwork to following a meticulous method to ensure optimum efficiency and delivery that's scalable as well as practical.
Many times though, I keep asking myself, and I'm sure many people involved passionately in running a startup, working for one and probably having failed at startups as to, "How important are processes as part of startups? And how much is too much when it comes to being process oriented?"
While it's a blessing especially if you are aware of the lean principles of startups and are able to successfully achieve your required outputs, profits and scale your business to the desired results, it can sometimes be a tricky situation especially if you have a diverse culture and a dynamic business environment, one that is as young and as flourishing as you'd find out here in India.
So it's also important that the key to ensuring success is to find a right balance between processes and tactics that help actual execution and deliver results. Whether it's a product-based or a service-based startup, sometimes founders may tend to get stuck with a lot of processes, some that may or may not affect actual execution and delivery. While some processes are needed, others can be done away with. The question is, how does one identify that?
Sometimes startups go with processes because they are part of best practices, however you need to identify what works for you the best and then go with it. Despite how strong a process is, it has to be logical in the way it impacts your vision, your goals and of course blends with the culture you're aspiring to build within your startup. Sometimes best practices can truly mar innovation and many times, rather than process, in tech startups, being disruptive and being able to bring about that change matters more than anything else, especially at the early stages.
The key is to balance process with innovation and form a culture to give space and room to creative ways that helps people challenge the status quo. While you are trying to solve real world problems as an entrepreneur, it's imperative that you see beyond just processes. Many times, if you're too stuck on building a strong process, infrastructure even before you start shipping, then the risk towards failure is all the more evident. Get the basics right, go with the flow where required, most importantly when you’re in the early days of your startup.
So how do we find that right balance? Understanding the fundamentals that affect your business and your customers/clients is key to understanding what process is required when. While it's important to not have a casual, haphazard way of working things and paying attention to certain aspects of processes that effectively help you deliver the business, it's also equally important to drive fundamental reasoning within every employee as to why he or she is following that certain process. It helps if you empower your employees to understand and reason or even guide them as to how it is important in the scheme of everything. Sometimes documentation for developers may be an important process, but having rigid systems where they affect final outcomes may not always be accepted well. As long as the job is being done and eventually things are working out, a certain amount of leeway always helps function better for many startups.
Effectively one of the essential things entrepreneurs should always look at is how they transition their culture in order to drive the balance between processes and the overall shaping of the ecosystem within the organization, where every employee feels that he or she is the stakeholder and getting the job done is of the utmost importance. Whether they get stuck by the bureaucracy or feel empowered by the ability to do the job in an environment that encourages progressive thinking and openness is what will define how your startup shapes up.