“No” is one of the most powerful words in the English language, and it’s one of the keys to good time management. It might be odd to think that saying “no” is a skill, since it sounds so simple. But it is a skill. Some people seem to have been born with it. Other people learn it. Either way, it’s a critical ability when it comes to managing a business and managing yourself.
Just to be clear, when I talk about saying “no,” I’m talking generally about not taking on something new. When we do this, we don’t simply say “no” to someone. In fact, we’ve done a two-part series just on how to say “no” the right way! And if you want some tips on how to say “no” effectively, those lessons are worth a look. Today, however, I want to focus on why we need to say “no.”
When we talk about “management” and “managers,” we’re usually thinking about managing people. And that involves many different skills. But all these skills are useless if the manager can’t manage his or her own self. So good management starts with good self-management. And an essential part of self-management is managing your time effectively, which in turn depends on effective scheduling.
So, as a manager, how do you set a schedule that works? Well, that starts with prioritizing. You can think of tasks on two dimensions: importance and urgency. The first key to good time management is avoiding things that are neither urgent nor important. That includes daily distractions, trivial tasks, and anything minor that simply wastes time. The second key is to minimize things that seem urgent but are not important. A lot of meetings, emails, phone calls, and interruptions fall into this category.
In the early stages, startup companies are built on the ideas and energy of their founders. These are often smart, creative people with great technical knowledge and skills. And this creativity and technical know-how is crucial to bringing great ideas to life.
But very quickly, a startup becomes more than just one or two individuals. As it grows, it becomes a team of people. And as it changes, or pivots, the original founders need more than just creativity and technical skills. They need to be able to lead their team with passion.
Leading a team might not come naturally to every founder. Or to any manager in any type of company, tech startup or not. But you can learn and practice the skills of a being a great leader.
For starters, you’ll want to know how to be positive and show compassion for your team members. Taking care of your team will also involve responding decisively to needs. And people are depending on you to show them the vision behind all the hard work, and to underline the shared purpose of everyone on the team.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a startup founder named Quinn, who has recently pivoted his online payments company to focus on business customers. He’s talking with lead developer Jill, and a new marketing manager named Colin. To execute this pivot well, Quinn will have to call on all his leadership abilities to guide his team to success.
1. How does Quinn set a positive tone at the start of the conversation? 2. What is the big vision, or change, the company wants to make? 3. How does Quinn respond to Jill’s request for help with infrastructure needs?
There are lots of business ideas and tech innovations that sound like good ideas. But the real test of an idea is the marketplace. People might like your idea, but will they buy it? Will enough people buy it to make the business viable? Even if you’ve done your market research, sometimes consumer feedback tells you it just won’t work.
This happens all the time with startups. And the smart ones don’t keep throwing good money after bad. Nor do they give up altogether. Instead, they pivot. When you pivot, you shift your business model or strategy based on the feedback you get from the market. That’s how Odeo, a podcasting platform, became Twitter. And that’s how YouTube gave up on video-dating and became a massively popular video-sharing site.
Pivoting well isn’t easy. It takes some tough conversations about new goals for the company and new needs. And one of the toughest aspects of the pivot is sacrificing some of your old ideas. You also have to remember it’s not just about you and your ideas. When you pivot, you need to consider your team and your investors as well.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between a young entrepreneur named Quinn and his mentor, Kira. Quinn has been working hard to get his online payments business going. Now he sees that it would be wise to pivot his focus from individual consumers to business customers.
1. What does Quinn say is the company’s most pressing need? 2. What is the old idea that Quinn needs to sacrifice to pivot his business? 3. What does Quinn say his investors need to understand?
Our world has been undergoing massive changes. And it’s not just the global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the economy. There’s political turmoil, rapidly evolving technology, climate change, and calls for greater social justice. Our work and workplaces look and feel different because of this. There’s less travel, increased automation, more remote work, and moves toward greater equity and inclusion.
Nobody’s untouched by these changes. But not everybody is equally adept at dealing with them. Now, more than ever, we need to learn to accept, if not embrace, volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity. If you’re waiting for the world to go back to the way it was in 2019, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.