Don't wait for the perfect product. If it helps the business, go ahead and do it, advises Anurag Srivastava, co-founder, BigStylist.com.
If you are running a tech team for a start-up, you know that it is not the easiest job in the world.
You would be writing codes and cool algos (algorithms) to keep the product moving, taking interviews after interviews, keeping up with the increase in site/app traffic, worrying about scalability, and so on.
Here are a few pointers from my experience that will help you stay sane and effective at the same time.
1. Do not chase glory
It is very easy for a tech team to get carried away with all the attention and praise that they receive from the employees of other departments.
Tech, sometimes, is magic. However, stay aligned to the business even if it means doing unsexy stuff for a while. If it helps the business, go ahead and do it.
2. Do not fall for the 'perfect' product
Most techies I know strive for the perfect product.
Unless you are building a mission critical product where margin for error is zero, it is perfectly okay to go live with the product even if it serves only 80-90 per cent of use-cases.
Time to market is very important. Ship today, fix tomorrow.
3. Follow Agile
I know the term 'agile' is beaten to death but it deserves all the attention it gets.
Agile methodology gets even more important for start-ups.
You must reach out to your customers as soon as possible.
Follow shorter agile cycles, build imperfect products, go live with your changes and seek feedback from real (and potential) customers and implement changes.
4. Define the right metric to measure your efforts
Consider this -- you built a feature on your website and noticed that after the launch, there is an increase in visit to conversion ratio by 10 per cent.
You see this metric and believe that the changes made by your team did wonders. It is very easy to neglect the tons of parallel changes being done in your company which could have led or contributed to this 10 per cent.
A few drivers could be your digital marketing team could have started targeting the website to the right audience. The creatives, designed and distributed could have hit the bull’s eye or your marketing team could have launched a crazy deal.
The idea is to define the right metric that will correctly identify the impact of your change. Or the lack of it.
5. Hire the right attitude
Hire individuals with the right attitude.
S/he may not know the technology that is being used in your product but don't reject the candidate based on just this.
If the fundamentals are clear and s/he has the willingness to learn and adapt, give it a shot, I'd say!
6. Do not silo the team
It is easy for the tech team to stay warm and cosy in their own sweet geek-land! Do not let it happen.
Every team member must be aligned to the company's vision and must strongly believe in the product that you are trying to build.
They must understand where their role fits in and what value they are driving for the customer and the company by writing the hundreds of lines of code that they are writing.
7. Speak to your customers
Getting direct feedback from the customers is a must.
You must eliminate all the middlemen as the version of the feedback passed on to you will have a flavour of their own understanding.
I cannot overemphasise the importance of this one.
8. Take feedback from other departments
Taking feedback from a set of people who have never seen the product is highly recommended.
It will give you a different perspective on your product.
It is very easy to miss obvious ones as you have been involved since conception and development.
9. Testing is as important as coding
Testing is not a very cool thing to do but it is as important as coding.
Set strict standards for testing and fixing bugs that come out of testing.
Be sure to get people outside the tech team involved as real-world testers.
It is very important to celebrate your successes, however small it is.
It keeps you, your team and the company going.
Remember, running tech at a start-up is all glitz and glamour from the outside but can be a maddening ride to actually do it.
So, the last thought that I will leave you with is to be unafraid of seeking help. There are people right in your own network you can speak to and seek advice.
*Lead image used for representational purposes only.
The author Anurag Srivastava is the co-founder of BigStylist.com, a salon-at-home start-up. An aerospace engineer from the IIT Kharagpur, Anurag has worked at ADP, a Fortune 500 payroll management company, in Hyderabad and New Jersey.