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Why Your Agency Experience is Perfect for Startups

You got hired because you have a passion for brands and were able to talk intelligently to the client about Snapchat. You always thought you’d be doing something that had an impact on consumers. Clearly, writing Facebook posts for a cheese client wasn’t what you had in mind when you envisioned your career at a…

Want to Read more ? You got hired because you have a passion for brands and were able to talk intelligently to the client about Snapchat. You always thought you’d be doing something that had an impact on consumers. Clearly, writing Facebook posts for a cheese client wasn’t what you had in mind when you envisioned your career at a marketing agency.
So you’ve realized it’s time to do something else. The good news is, your skills are not at all limited to agency life. In fact, they are very applicable to the startup world. As a former agency person, let me explain why your skills can work well and are very needed in startups.
Building the right team is the most important thing in the first few years on a startup’s life. A quality product, happy customers… all of that is a result of getting the right people on the bus. At One Mighty Roar, we invest heavily in the people we bring into the company. Every person who ends up on our website has a backstory and lessons learned from their former work lives.
For me, I came to OMR after suffering nearly four years of agency life without much to feel good about. Now, my work as a strategist gives me more opportunities to impact how people use technology. Specifically, my team is working to help the Internet of Things be easier to use and make connected devices work together. I can see the real world business value on projects like this and this is my motivation to keep pushing the notion of what’s possible.
You might not realize the skills you learned while eating lunch lonely at your desk trying to power through a deck. But the truth is, startups are looking for people just like you. We sometimes just suck at writing job posts that reflect the skills we really need, so you may need to look beyond the bullet points and seek us out.
Here are four skills that I promise will make any startup person smile during the interview:
Attention to Detail – The likelihood of clients reading your meeting notes is about the same as getting your time-sheets done on time. However, this attention to detail can help the team keep track of items that need more attention. Your ability to take notes and follow up will be a surprising change to people who are used to being pulled in different directions all day. They will look to you as a valuable project manager and as the organized person to remind them about that pitch presentation that has been sitting on their to-do list for a month.
Distill Thoughts to Actionable Goals – Inside the war rooms of startups, many ideas are talked about with little or no action on what to do next. People with an agency background have been trained to distill a client’s thoughts into goals for the agency to solve or explore. Think of the startup as your client. By coming up with action items for each talking point, you’ll be the envy of the office happy hour.
Focus the Team on Solving One Problem – Remember that time you shut your creative team in a room until they solved how they were going to make a 30 second spot into a 15 second one? Well, the same skill to keep a team motivated and focused applies in the startup world too. While it’s not on most job descriptions, startups are looking for people that can motivate teams members, be their cheerleader, and keep projects on the right track.
Creative Thinking with a Mind to Build – Does it ever frustrate you that your agency doesn’t really make anything? You don’t make products, you advertise them. Building things is exactly what startups do. But what they need more of are people with a maker’s passion — but creative thinking — to solve the daunting “What’s next?” question that many agency folks can’t seem to master. The skills needed here are simple: You have the ability to think creatively on hard problems. This type of thinking happens all the time at agencies; you just don’t have the right team to actually implement the ideas. This is your chance to finally create things that people will use.
I hope by outlining the skills startups are craving will inspire you to consider switching to startup life. Skill level aside, what I believe to be the best reason to take your agency experience to a startup is the power you have to make change happen. Some agencies pitch “pie in the sky” ideas to clients knowing moving forward won’t actually happen. Startups, on the other hand, foster a culture to take on challenges and take the risk to actually execute ideas and try new things. Change is something startups embrace. Watching the success of a startup from the outside is one thing, but being involved in the experience will impact you the way you wish your agency did. Trust me, I work at a startup.

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Business parenting tips startup tips Startups

How to Balance a Startup With Parenthood

One of the common startup myths is that single 20-somethings are the most successful entrepreneurs and that they are the demographic that starts the most companies. Zach and Sam may have started One Mighty Roar before they were even legal to go into a bar, but research from the Kauffman Foundation states that the average…

Want to Read more ? One of the common startup myths is that single 20-somethings are the most successful entrepreneurs and that they are the demographic that starts the most companies. Zach and Sam may have started One Mighty Roar before they were even legal to go into a bar, but research from the Kauffman Foundation states that the average founder is actually 40 years old. The same report shows that nearly 70% of entrepreneurs are married and 60% had at least one child. So much for the stereotype.
Tons of startups, from Intel to Starbucks, were all started by parents. I am a dad myself and One Mighty Roar has been growing along with my daughter. Before I became a father, I got to work with a number of folks who taught me some really great lessons about balancing parenthood and a startup, and I still use these lessons to this day.
1. Think of Your Partner As Your Investor
Having a supportive home partner is a must, and you run a chance of a very painful and expensive divorce if you don’t manage the relationship and foster that support. Think of your partner as your investor, because that person has more influence than you think. So before you start a company or pick a team to join, take the time to pitch the venture and convince your most important investor. It is worth getting your partner’s support.
2. Choose Your Startup Team Wisely
The team you work with is like a second family. Pick wisely! There are many reasons I joined the OMR team, but their support of me being a parent from Day One has been nothing but an inspiration. When your team supports your choice to be a parent, it removes a large layer of office politics and acts as a great source of energy. Even your single colleagues may be parents someday. You have to set an example and inspire them not to fear it when their time comes.
3. Communicate Your Schedule and Priorities
Conflict and ambiguity bring an unnecessary level of overhead to work and family relationships. To minimize that overhead, communication and expectations-setting should be at the top of your mind daily. I am a huge fan of “Commanders Intent.” We practice it at One Mighty Roar at every level, from apprentice to founder. You have to let people know what you are going to do and what the final outcome will look like. Communicating possible risks and where you need help will prepare your home and office teams to have your back when needed. In addition to providing context to a lot of your actions, being transparent with what you are doing and how you are going to do it adds a level of personal discipline you need.
4. Focus
If it does not serve your family or business – purge it! Often, the first thing to go are networking events. Those are mostly “drink-ups” that have no real business value, anyway. Second thing to go are meetings with people who are either not helpful to your work or who are “takers.” These are folks who rarely, if ever, reciprocate for the time and connections you give them. Lastly, it is very likely you will be jettisoning a bunch of hobbies and other activities now that you are a parent. If you already have kids, you know that “me time” is like sleep at Navy Seals training – you take when you can get it, since you don’t get to plan for it. For me, sleep has become the most sought after “hobby.” Being a parent and getting to work with my team is extremely fulfilling and honestly I don’t care enough to pick other hobbies back up right now. I know I am not alone thinking that way.
5. Manage Your Energy
Energy management is not just for utilities. Business has strong demands on your mental energy, and your new family can take a physical toll. Pulling all nighters for the sake of work is non-sense. Generally speaking, the work you do when you’re up at 2:00 am isn’t top-quality, and you’re only going to have to redo the work again the following day. So don’t waste your time.
6. Set Boundaries
When people at work and at home know what to expect from you and when, you cut out a massive amount of conflicts. For example, my team knows there are certain days I leave at 5:00 pm to pick up my daughter and am not going to be reachable until she goes to sleep at 8:00 pm. On those days, my wife knows I need to be in extra early to pound out some work. Most weekday evenings I do set aside time to work on finance and legal docs, because I do the best work on those then.
That means that one of the weekend days is exclusively for housework, family fun, and other non-work activities. It also does not relieve me of my share of housework. Those are just couple of examples.
There are many many successful companies being led by parents. Motivation you derive from having to provide for your family, the impending college costs for your kids, that retirement you have to build for yourself, and the drive to make your family proud of you are incredible fuel for building a successful company. Take it one step at the time and you can and will put your family and growing business in equilibrium. It is not only doable, it is also extremely fun and fulfilling.

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