Since I fell in love with Steve Blank’s excellent write-ups on startups, I believed I would curate the below write-Up here. It is 2021, and maybe it will be helpful to an emerging startup and very optimistic entrepreneurs.
I was drinking a 2nd coffee with an old student, now the head of marketing in a fast-growing startup. His business had trailed through client discovery, well-read about the customer issues, certified solutions, and was now topping sales and marketing—all great news.
But he was becoming anxious that as his headcount was rising, the productivity of his marketing department looked to be quickly declining.
I wasn’t amazed. When establishments are small startups, small crews in firms, and government organizations, early workers share a mission why they come around to work, what they required to do whereas they are at work, and how they will see they have been successful. But as these groups grow, a shared mission and intent get suppressed under the HR procedure and Key Performance Signs.
I told him that I had well-read long ago that you must train your team about task and intent to have that from happening.
What motivates you to work here?
I had taken the employment of VP of Marketing in a business developing from bankruptcy. We’d achieved to secure another brew of cash, but it wasn’t directed to last long.
In my first week on the work, I enquired each department heads what they did for promotion and the firm. When I asked our trade show director, she looked startled and said, “Steve, don’t you see that my job is to take our stall to trade displays and set it up?” The other departments provided the same kind of logistical responses — the product-marketing department, for instance, said their work was to get the product specs from Production and write datasheets. Then my preferred was when the public relations manager told me, “We’re here to précis the data sheets and put them in press releases and then reply the phone in situation the press calls.” If these sound like sensible replies to you, and you are in a startup, update your restart.
Titles are not your responsibility.
When I pressed my employees to explain why marketing attended trade events, issued press releases, and drafted data sheets, the best response I could get was, “Because that’s our job.” In their minds, their titles were a reference to a Human Resources job description from a 10,000-person corporation (that is, listing responsibilities and duties, services and capabilities, reporting relationships).
It seemed to me that we had a department full of individuals with names describing process-centric execution, even though we were in an environment that demanded unrelenting agility and speed with hurry.
While their titles were what their business cards indicated, titles were not their work — and being a slave to procedure caused them to lose sight of the forest for the trees. In a workplace where every day may be our last, this was the last thing we needed.
In a startup, your job title is not the same as your title. This is a significant concept.
According to the Department mission statements: What am I asked to perform today?
It wasn’t that I had inherited a bunch of idiots. Instead, what I was seeing was a management failure.
Nobody had brought these guys on board. No one has distinguished between a startup job description and a position at a huge corporation. They were all doing what they believed they should be doing.
Most significantly, no one had ever sat down with the marketing department and stated our department’s Mission.
Most businesses create a company mission statement because the CEO saw one at his previous work or because the investors indicated they required one. As a result, most companies spend an undue amount of time writing a highly honed corporate mission statement for external consumption and then do little to make it materialize within. What I’m about to describe is different.
My startup marketing department lacked anything that provided daily advice to the marketing employees on what they should be doing. My CEO’s immediate thought was, “That’s why you’re in charge of the department.” Yes, we could have created a top-down, command-and-control hierarchy, but I needed an adaptable marketing team capable of functioning autonomously without day-to-day supervision.
We wanted to create a Departmental Mission Statement that explained to everybody:
- When they came to work; and
- What they needed to perform while at work.
- And how they’d know whether they were successful.
And it was going to say two things that marketing needs to live by sales and profits.
Five simple pieces: The marketing objective
This year, marketing must give sales with 40,000 active and accepted leads, over 65 per cent business and product brand awareness in our target market, and five favourable product reviews every quarter. With a headcount of twenty workers and a budget of less than $4,000,000, we will achieve a 35 per cent market share in year one of sales.
- Create end-user demand (to meet our revenue targets) and
- Channel that demand through our sales channels.
- Value price our items to meet our sales and profit targets (create high-value)
- Train our sales staff (s)
- Assist Engineering in understanding the demands of the customer
Putting together a mission-driven team for your Startup
With the purpose in place, our staff could see that it wasn’t what was on their business card that counted, but how much closer their efforts brought our department to complete the purpose. That is all there is to it.
It was a problematic notion for everyone to comprehend.
My new Director of Marketing Communications transformed the Marcom divisions into a mission-driven company. For example, her new tradeshow manager quickly realized that his job was not to put up displays — we hired union employees to do that — but rather a trade show was where our firm went to generate awareness and sales.
The booth was just coincidental. I didn’t care if we had a stall or not to create the same number of leads and awareness by jumping nude into a coffee cup.
The same was true for public relations. My new Public Relations director immediately discovered that my office administrator could address press inquiries. Public relations was not a passive “write a press release and hope for the best” activity. It wasn’t about how busy you were; it was about the outcomes. And the results were not the standard PR metrics of several stories or inches of ink. I couldn’t give a damn about those.
I asked our PR department to analyze the sales process, find out where PR might help with awareness and interest, get up close and personal with the press and utilize it to build end-user demand, which we could then push into our sales channel. We were continually doing internal and external audits and developing metrics to assess the impact of various public relations messaging, platforms, and audiences on consumer awareness, buy intent, and end-user sales.
The same could be said about the Product Marketing team. Therefore, I recruited a Director of Product Marketing who had previously managed marketing for a corporation before becoming the business’s national sales manager.
When I questioned him how much of his marketing material his sales department used in the fields, he applied for the job. When he answered, “approximately ten percent,” I knew I’d discovered the correct person because of the ashamed look on his face. And our Director of Technical Marketing was exceptional at comprehending client requirements and presenting them to Engineering.
What is the true purpose of the Mission for a Startup?
The next step was to accept that our Mission Statement may alter on the fly with a fantastic team in place. “Hey, we just got into the Mission concept, and now you’re telling us it can change?” If we pivot, rivals may launch new items. We may discover something new about our consumers, and so on. As a result, we established the concept of Mission Intent. The response to the question, “What is the company’s idea and objective behind the mission?” was given by intent. In our example, the company aimed to sell $25 million of merchandise with a gross margin of 45 per cent.
The concept behind teaching purpose is that if workers understand why we created the goal, they will work together to achieve it for the good of the startup. For example, they recognized that the mission aim was to meet our company’s sales and profit targets.
Why is this the case?
Our startup crew had gelled by the end of the first year. It was a department anxious to take the initiative, with the wisdom to act intelligently and the willingness to accept responsibility. I recall my direct reports coming into my office at the end of a long week merely to celebrate the week’s small achievements.
And there was a point when they all realized, as they related their tales, that our firm, which had just gotten off life support, was finally catching up to our better-funded and larger competitors. We were all in awe at the time.
- Reduce the amount of independence in job execution to the minimum level.
- Provides a clear Mission Statement for everyone to understand why they come to work, what they need to perform, and how they will know they have succeeded.
- Share Mission Intent to see the broader picture for the Mission Statement.
- Create a team that is at ease with mission execution on its own.
- Implement a No Excuses Culture.
- Decide on Central Values to outline your culture.