As someone who observes startup behaviour I see a lot of founders using the fact that they are startups to get away with things that are “not fun” to do.
It’s very exciting as a founder when you start a company, you are full of energy and excited about the possibility of the future. Before you get to doing the fun stuff make sure you’ve got the foundation down. A lot of startups I’ve seen neglect some very basic things that will eventually cause the company to implode, whether its employees leaving because they don’t feel appreciated, or paying huge fines because they didn’t take care of basic accounting and taxes.
Take care of your business’s basic needs. Doing accounting is one of those things which is so ‘uncool’ it’s boring as hell, however it’s oh so important. Getting your taxes right from day one is going to save you a lot of time and money later down the line. I used to be a part of a startup that neglected this and we ended up paying a huge fine. Get it done! DO NOT LEAVE THIS! I promise you if you don’t do this, you will fail as a business.
Another thing I see as a problem is basic employee benefits such as social insurance. These are basic benefits for employees that every business is obligated to provide by law. If you are a startup and don’t have social insurance for your employees, you are neglecting to take care of your employees basic needs.
Understand that as a founder, whether you are burning through your savings, or using investor’s money you are the beneficiary for your business. Chances are your employees are earning a salary and are not entrepreneurial and don’t care about your stock options. They want to save as much of their salary as possible and should they get sick or something happens they will want those benefits that the state provides them. As the founder of a company you may not need it because you come from a background of abundance and have private insurance, but your employees may not have the same benefits you do. Show some empathy and sort this out! There are so many startups I’ve seen and heard about that don’t provide social insurance for their employees its outrageous.
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Another thing I see a lot is companies who never pay to train their employees or buy books or online courses for their team members. If you’re not doing this, well you should start. Everyone wants to grow, and by providing this as a company your employees will feel like your company is a place where they can develop their skills and grow as an individual.
Another issue I see crop up a lot is founders having absolutely no respect for employees time-off. Your employees are not your co-founders. You are paying them a salary for a fixed amount of hours to work in a day. Generally 6–8 hours / day depending on how the startup is organised.
Chances are your employees don’t care about stock options. If you’ve offered it to them, have you signed an agreement? Have you asked them if they want it? Your employees are only obligated to work the official work hours for you which is 8 hours / day 5 days a week, that translates to 40 hours / week. Any time beyond that you should thank them and make them feel appreciated. It doesn’t always have to be money, figure out a way to show real appreciation. Most of the time a heart-felt ‘Thank You’ or buying them dinner is enough.
Under no-circumstances should you contact your employees over the weekend to ask them to do something. If you really must ask them to do something because it’s an emergency, then ask nicely. If they can’t, respect it! Chances are if your employees are motivated and love working with you because they know that you are taking care of them, they will take care of the problem even if they’re on holiday. They need to have a life outside of work, be free to live their lives. They need to feel that they have some time-off from work, otherwise your company is going to suffer a burn-out and then your productivity will really take a nose-dive.
Reading through this you may be mistaken to think “are employees motivated by these benefits?” No they’re not, they just need to know that should something happen the founder of company has their back. Taking care of basic needs will help your employees feel safe, because they see evidence that you took care of their basic needs. You’ve got their back.
Running a company is like starting a family. Your employees become your children. Would you ever let your children go without education, health-care and appreciation? Absolutely not! You would be classified as bad parents if you did. Taking care of your companies taxes, your employees taxes, providing training, having respect for your employees time off will make them feel safe, happy and appreciated. If you want motivated employees take care of them! They are the foundation for your business.