Here’s What You Can Do to Avoid Making Really Bad Business Decisions

May 22, 2016, 3:00 PM UTC
Business people talking in meeting
Business people talking in meeting
Photograph by Martin Barraud — Caiaimage via Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What leadership style should every entrepreneur try to adopt?” is written by Mollie Spilman, CRO of Criteo.

Starting a company has its ups and downs, highs and lows. The same can be said for any job, and any leadership position—even in a large organization. But when starting a business, especially a tech one, things move quickly—often too quickly. Teams are hungry, eager, and smart. While that’s a big plus, it’s important not to step on each other’s toes, and not to do redundant work.

Startup employees are also very passionate—likely because they’re closely tied to their projects and are invested (most times even financially). That can cause frustrations and arguments that lead to bad decision-making. At the same time, it’s easy to get lost in innovation when starting a business. Allowing new ideas to get out of hand can lead to truly unique and impactful products and services, but it’s still important to stay on track. All of these elements of starting and running a company boil down to one thing: transparent and consistent communication.

Clear responsibilities in a fast-paced environment are a must
Often times, building a business means doing it fast, being opportunistic, and as such, having a few people doing a lot. Defining roles and responsibilities, even at a small company, keeps people on track and ensures that everyone stays in their lane. It’s counterproductive for two people to be doing the same work, and inappropriate to step on a coworker’s toes. When I was starting TidalTV (now Videology), my partners and I sat down and mapped out who would do what. I would focus on sales and marketing, one would run legal and financial models, and the other would drive the technology and product side. Together, we divided what we needed to accomplish into each of our areas of strength. Our clear boundaries allowed us to be efficient, nimble, and move amazingly fast.

See also: The Simple Way to Be a Better Leader

Be invested, but remain emotionally intelligent for the greater good
When someone is committed and whole-heartedly invested in something, passion is a natural side effect. A startup is no different—it’s like a child you want to see succeed. Launching a company demands a lot of attention, and a lot of emotional time. When things don’t go the right way, or there are conflicting opinions, it’s easy to get hot-headed and let an emotional reaction get in the way of professionalism and progress. While healthy debate keeps everyone honest and open-minded, disrespect and drama does not. It’s important to maintain a calm and courteous demeanor with all colleagues. For some, that may mean taking a few moments to cool off, and for others that may mean stepping into a room and engaging in a constructive conversation. Resolution styles may differ, but emotional intelligence in finding a resolution through communication is key to moving forward.


Remember that you are marching toward a single, common goal
Heading into the launch of a product or service, make sure you have an end goal—both short term and long term. And more importantly, make sure you stick to it. At times, it’s okay to re-evaluate, build on, and pivot into something more relevant for your business and the end user, but make sure you and your team agree and refine the target objective. Celebrate your startup’s wins and learn from your losses. If you’re going to fail, that’s alright, but only do it once in order to make sure that you’re still doing what you set out to do, like making X amount of sales, or distributing Y amount of products by next year. In the end, for you and your upstart team, the single most-unifying factor is the end game. I can assure you the victory will be sweet in the end, but it won’t happen unless communication is at the heart of it.