Building Blogtec from 0 to 1M ARR as a CEO has taught me many lessons. I had the chance to take a look into all the different departments in a company, and learned what makes a difference and what not. In this article, I will share about the initiative that recently made the biggest impact on growing our company, and that can be a heavy accelerator I wish I would have focused on earlier.
The 3 Steps to Run a Company 🪜
Building and managing a company works in the following 3 steps.
You need to set a goal. Where do we want to be one day, where do we want to be in 5 years, where in 1 year, where in one quarter… In the really early days, being clear about this might seem as a waste of time, but latest if you made your first progress, this is heavily required. I’m a fan of the metaphor of a ship that doesn’t know where to go or what the checkpoints on the way are. How can you arrive if you don’t know where to sail towards to?
The next step is to figure out how to actually get there. Usually, a company wants to make more revenue in the next quarter than the last one. Then they need to determine how many new customers they need to acquire and how high the churn should be.
Next, they have to plan how to achieve those new paying customers and churn numbers. Without a strategy, they won’t get there.
The final step is to execute your strategy to reach your goals. And here lays a massive potential that many early companies don’t use. What separates successful and fast-growing companies from others is that they execute well, but more importantly, they execute extremely fast.
Don’t Forget About Execution 🦸
A company resource that is easy to forget is time, in detail the time of your employees. This is the most important resource that your company has, and in the end, using it right will make the difference.
That’s why it’s crucial to build a system that creates focus in your company and ensures that every employee contributes to the strategy you’ve set.
Basically, you want to make sure that everyone in your team spends as much of their time executing your strategy and growing the company. You want to avoid your people working on tasks that might be nice to have done, but are outside your strategy and not required.
Prioritization = Focus 🚀
The most crucial system that we’re using at Blogtec to ensure we stay focused is Scrum.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a project management method which initially comes from Engineering but is today used across all teams in leading organizations like Facebook, Airbnb, or Uber. We’re using a light version of it, as we’re a small team and have fewer capacities.
We’re using Scrum company-wide, except in our Administrative department, as that consists mainly of recurring tasks.
The key of Scrum are sprints. These are basically “cycles of working” that can be 1–4 weeks long. They start with a sprint meeting where you pick tasks for the next cycle. Then you try to complete all the tasks you picked. Once the sprint is over, you have a new sprint meeting where you review the sprint and plan the next one.
Our version is a bit more basic than common, as usually, you have one Sprint Planning and one Sprint Review meeting, and then often an additional Sprint Retroperspective meeting. We decided to simplify this by making it all in one meeting, and instead higher the frequency of the sprint cycles.
The sprints are weekly in all teams to be as flexible as possible. In app development that’s a bit too much, however, we currently have Engineering sprints, so web design is included there as well, and in web design the weekly flexibility is great. We also don’t have any standup meetings in the week, but solve everything asynchronously.
The power of this is that every week, for your entire team, you pick the tasks that bring the most value to your company. This way, you make sure you don’t waste any of your team’s time and are laser-focused on your goals.
Backlog & Picking Projects
Usually, tasks are part of a project. Therefore, prioritizing projects well is just as crucial as prioritizing tasks well. Generally, all projects that are part of a focus should be prioritized, especially the key initiatives. In addition, we use “PIE scores”.
The score goes from 3-15, and is calculated by three categories that need to be decided on: P = Potential, I = Importance, E = Ease. Each gets a value from 1-5. Once you sum them up, you have a total score. The higher the score, the more important it is to tackle. This helps to stay objective with projects and sorting them in your backlog.
The projects and their PIE scores are updated once a month by me and the department leads. Depending on the size of your company, you can do it more often and have it done by different people. The most essential is that someone is responsible for cleaning and updating the backlog.
Setting goals and strategy are crucial for a company to succeed. I struggled with this for a long time until I learned about the system we’re using now, that works very well for us.
The system we created ensures that every week we work on what has the biggest impact on our company, and avoid working on tasks that don’t have an impact or are outdated. This focus makes a big difference.
Countless startups don’t even have a good overview on what they’re currently working on. Team members have an endless list of tasks that they never finish, and lots of those tasks don’t have an impact or contribute to their current strategy.
Startups need to realize that their biggest resource is the time of their team. Successful and efficient startups know this and create systems that ensure that every minute of their team members is spent wisely.