Note from Shlomo: Startup CEOs are pushed up the scale as they grow and need to work on totally different tasks when growing their startup. One of those tasks is “Strategy”. I always wondered what this word means and what people mean when they say “strategy”, expecailly for a startup. Here is what “Strategy” and the “Bigger Picture” is like for me in AppInChina.co . Read on and share your thoughts as well. I might be totally wrong…
All Men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what non can see is the strategy out of which Victory is Involved-Sun Tzu
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I’ve been working on the bigger picture now that AppInChina.co have grown to 2+ people!
Frankly, so far I had the privilege to know for most of the time what I should be working on. I had a client, I worked on the sale, I had a project, I needed to finish it on time, I had a lead , I was following up. The routine is very clear and you are in this routine the whole time.
Now things are different…
Suddenly you are not operational so much. I see my role now as most important in two things:
To those of you who are not sure what I’m talking about I’ll elaborate. Also, don’t worry if you are not sure what these mean. Frankly, I don’t either…It’s just what I think these mean and I’m not sure every start CEO would see these roles the same way (Tell me how you see your role, perhaps there is a better way seeing it…).
Infrastructure is everything that need to be made to run the business smoothly. It will prevent future problems and make the company more efficient. As example, yesterday I spent the whole day looking for a simple CRM system to manage all our leads and sales (any suggestions?). I spent a lot of time comparing different systems, features and prices and eventually chose Insightly, at least to start with.
It’s not that we can’t work with an excel sheet for now (though I’m really bad at managing clients this way) managing leads and sales. It’s not that we can’t then search the last email with that person and see what the status is, or even record it directly on the excel sheet.
But, growing forward involving more people in the process of sales and/or getting leads complicates things and makes things hard to follow. So, we WILL need it at some point to be more efficient. We need to spend less time on search for our opportunities and more time just identifying them from a smart system managing it all and being very clear where is each client in the sales cycle.
I still haven’t finished setting it up and would probably make some mistakes along the way, but this is a good example of infrastructure.
Strategy means looking at the big picture. Where the company is headed? Should we offer these services? Should we go with these partnerships? Should we raise money for the company?
But, what this means on a day to day basis?
It’s mainly research and finding the right people to answer different things you need to check. As example, we have a client who asked us to get him million downloads in China within 6 weeks. We do have the channels that we know reaching this goal.
Still, there are many other channels to promote Apps , such as App of the day newsletters, App walls on other Apps and so on. These can be interesting channels for AppInChina clients. The work now is seeing if these channels give better results and cheaper than others. This requires research in finding these services, comparing them and finally offer the relevant ones to clients. Obviously some channels might fit one type of client while others fit a different one. Anyway, it’s more about finding the right opportunities helping our clients monetize their app the best they can
There is still one role I’m deeply involved in and this is sales. If you don’t sell, your startup is dying…. I still see this role under the “operational” category and not under the strategy category.
I’m in constant contact with our clients (therefore the need for a CRM system) understanding what they need and offering them the best service that will suit them to make their business successful.
Yes, you can give other people do sales and they hopefully will be even better than you. But when starting up it’s super important to understand your customers best, and this is done by talking. Lots of talking!
I learn so much about different business models, industries and problems I need to solve just by having these conversations. This enables AppInChina keep offering what people would actually pay for! And most important we keep being challenged ourselves by talking to our clients understanding how to be the best amortization and distribution company in China, bringing in most transparency to our clients in this fragmented market.
Sales role therefore, is labeled very high , on the lean startup method we are worried and busy about customer development. Talking to clients and making sales is also customer development as well.
One more reason for working on sales is that you can train your staff better to do sales as well and take over at some point. I enjoy talking to clients and learn from them about their problems and helping them solving those.
Now over to you
How did it feel different for you when doing your first hiring? Did you keep working the same way but just did more of the same? Or had a totally different set of tasks/ workflow? Share that on the comments, I’d love to learn from you.
Image credit by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig