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2 years, 11 months ago
Lectures of Technopark. Master class of "20 errors during creation of the IT company"

During creation of any company it is possible to do many misses which can bury afterwards all business. In each sphere there are specific errors including in IT. How not to run on a rake, in Technopark Stas Schukin possessing 15 years' experience with IT in such companies as "Sitroniks", "Svyaznoy", Tvigle Media and A1 told. Besides, six years ago Stas founded the home company developing custom projects where periodically acts as the contractor, the consultant and the main developer. Read the text of performance under a cat.

1. What it is not necessary to begin with

The first mistake is made practically by all: begin with administrative procedures which are not necessary for occupation by your primary activity at all. Lease of office, the parking charge, connection of the Internet, employment of employees which are not necessary to you yet. I call it "emptiness administration" when the businessman creates a certain cover of activity prior to the activity.

And all these problems can be solved differently. You can meet somewhere in co-workings and in cafe, organize development of the first projects of the house. For maintenance of official contractual part it is possible to sign agreements as SP or even as the natural person — the turnkey contract or the order. And always you remember that every day existence of the company even if it exists only on paper, are expenses. Absolutely it is definitely not necessary to hurry with it.

2. Specialization

Be defined from the very beginning, still before you get to work what you will specialize in. A large market, there is a wish for everything and at once. But it is better to do well something one, than to undertake many different spheres in which your knowledge and skills will appear insufficiently for creation of the good project. The first ten projects will become your portfolio therefore it is better to make them accurately, thoughtfully and qualitatively.

3. Third-party help

Possibly, you will have no employees possessing high professional or special skills which are not necessary to you every day. In this case it is possible to address professionals for consultations or to employ them as freelancers. Initially for the small beginning company it is, perhaps, the most successful form of interaction. You will hardly manage to involve good specialists with a high salary or good working conditions, but you can interest them as the business partner, as the person giving interesting work.

Never be afraid to look for cooperation. There is a popular belief that it is better not to address some top manager or the high quality specialist that he will ignore you or at once will refuse to you. Do not listen — you can try to ask the help for any specialist in the market. And if you are ready to pay it, he with you will communicate to pleasure, will consult and, perhaps, will even perform for you some work. And absolutely be definitely not afraid to ask about something free of charge. The IT market rather young, is poorly regulated in comparison with the traditional industries, and many things very easily are solved at a meeting: drank coffee, orally agreed, together well worked. The main thing — not to be afraid of any contacts, then they can grow in big partnership.

4. Lack of the competition

One more popular belief which very often it is necessary to face — "We thought up such thing where we will have no competitors. We will remarkably feel and we will grow rich soon".

Anyway, you have competitors. They are in your area and in adjacent areas or will appear in half a year when you already spend money for development with which you will not be ready to compete with other companies. Therefore as soon as you decided on main goals, the main tasks and key specialization, find the competitors, that at whom you will look with envy or it is pejorative. To you it is necessary to be permanent in the market and to be guided in what occurs around you. And to evaluate everything it is sober. If your competitors do something well, it is necessary to analyze it and too to learn.

5. Process rationalization

Most formally set tasks — even if your company consists of three people sitting in one room, and you consider that there is no need to write each other letters. Otherwise in the future you are waited by problems. From the very beginning select the bug tracker or the task-manager with whom you will work. Use letters, the minimum opportunities of documentation which are given you by software. In the market it is complete of solutions, paid and free. JIRA costs about ten dollars a month, even for the small company it is ridiculous money, and you can begin your activity actually in the environment of industrial level.

All this is necessary because in further professional activity the phrase "I spoke to it" cannot be a justification. Words are forgotten, memory is deceptive. And the tasks set in the task-manager will not get to anywhere.

6. Save dynamics

It is very important. There is such concept — "fatigue from process". When the project lasts from month to month, from year to year, at people who are engaged in it, such fatigue collects that labor productivity falls nearly in geometrical progression. That it did not occur, find an opportunity to show progress to the employees, customers and partners.

It can be made very simply, by means of change of some statuses. For example, "We met", "We wrote it", "Sent all", it is necessary to inform all participants on change of the status of the project. Some landmark in the project, an output of some release — surely write about it and tell. It is very important. Develop at yourself such habit, further it many times will help you.

7. The meaning and non-significant people

Perhaps, it looks a little cruelly, but you will be always surrounded by people who speak much, but do not make decisions. Especially it is characteristic of representatives of the customer who write letters, demand some meetings. I spent many hours at meetings on 15 people in the large companies where both technicians, and managers, and marketing specialists, and designers gathered, and all each other tell something and demand something from you.

If the person does not influence solutions and is not responsible for money which you receive as a result, try to minimize your contacts and obligations to it. Not to seem the rough and bad partner, support some level of activity in correspondence, inform on the statuses meetings or in the status contango. But people who do not make decisions by and large to you are useless.

8. Knowledge base of the company

Very important point which should be been the basis for the philosophy if you want that your company developed and long existed. Even the smallest startup has to have the knowledge base in which you accumulate history of your company, lists of contractors, employees, partners, contact information, project documents, specifications etc. The earlier you will begin to fill this base, the it will be simpler to support it.

Unfortunately, in the Russian IT industry many things become kustarno, unlike the foreign companies. Our document flow in IT will not be compared to document flow on some industrial production, to its obligatory regulations, specifications, compliances to state standard specifications and TZ. The earlier you will begin to adhere to similar approach, the it will be simpler to live to you, the it will be easier to return to some projects. Perhaps it will be reasonable to keep in this knowledge base even ideas and practices which can be useful in some future project.

9. Ability to leave

It is necessary to be able to leave people, partners, subordinated. It is permanent to be to it ready. Even the closest friends, the most professional employees you are sometime abandoned. Or you should leave them if they disturb your performance. The small rule about which all know, but which is seldom observed — try not to work with close friends, with spouses, with children, with parents. Because any relations of production will disturb the relations personal or personal will begin to interpose in the business matter.

10. Alignment of forces in command

Always represent alignment of forces in your command and think of what happens if in very important project you are abandoned by the key employee on whom a lot of things are tied. It can accidentally happen (for example, because of a long illness) or intentionally — he was tired, offered him above a salary and/or it is better terms. Therefore always estimate as load of members of team will be redistributed if any of them (including you) is forced to depart from affairs.

11. Stock of finance

If you begin the project (to order or for yourself), always have such quantity of money to continue to work within half a year. Everyone happens. Happens that are delayed or absolutely the payments provided by the agreement stop. And you also risk the name. You have employees and partners and if you want to save reputation in the market, then be always sure that you can pay for the performed works even if you will have no money from the customer soon.

12. Non-productive expenses

Many, beginning the business, especially young heads, are inclined to underestimate non-productive expenses. Let's say the task on development of the website arrived. You counted:
  • I will pay the designer one thousand,
  • to the programmer two,
  • I will take myself five,
  • I will tell the customer that it costs 25.

Actually it will turn out that this project will cost you in all 30, and it is necessary to pay extra from the pocket. It is connected with the fact that you not only pay a salary, but also equip workplaces: you buy equipment, software, furniture, you pay business trips, offside events etc. Therefore, planning and budgeting any project, always try to evaluate non-productive expenses most precisely.

Offhand for the small company the amount of these expenses can be two-three times more, than cost value of the project in man-hours. For more mature company the share of such expenses is lower due to effect of large numbers, for example, both ten, and twenty people can use one cooler. But even in the large companies non-productive expenses remain at the level of 15–30%.

13. You do not hurry with payment

As it cynically sounds, do not hurry to pay bills. It does not mean that it is necessary to deceive people and to tighten payments, but do not pay in advance where it is possible to make it a bit later. Money quickly becomes cheaper. Besides, unpaid accounts motivate contractors and partners somewhat quicker and more qualitatively to perform the works ordered by you.

The same concerns the relations with the customer. Never do for what to you did not make an advance payment. Or, at least, very well did not promise to pay. Nobody appreciates supplementary services which you render. If you promised the customer to make one website, and made two and say how it is remarkable, he all the same will pay for one.

14. Purchase of software

Do not spend money, especially at an early stage, for software. All necessary for normal work of the organization is available or on a subscription now, or is free. If you for two-three days need difficult and expensive software products, then use the trial period. For example, the designer says that he needs filters for Photoshop, it is necessary to purchase them, they cost 1500 dollars. At the same time work with them will take half an hour. In this case it is better to use the legal trial period of this product. It is necessary to treat it absolutely quietly.

15. Partner programs

Partner programs of big corporations can be very profitable to the small company. For example, Microsoft had many partner sentences for the beginning companies. They concern also preferential prices of software, both a hosting, and programs for training. Many large vendors have such programs of support. Do not hesitate to use them, it is always possible to find something interesting.

16. Employment of employees

Always you remember that opening in the company of a new position — difficult process, and for the small company it in general is critical. If you decide to employ the person, then have to represent, than he will be engaged at least in the next year. It is a normal time span during which and the person can be disappointed in you, and you can understand that to you further not on the way. But if you open a position in staff, then it is necessary to see perspectives of this position for the year ahead.

17. Combination of roles

Combine non-productive roles: operational, administrative, even project activity. So far at you few projects, most likely, you can be both the CEOs, and the chief designer, and the project-manager, and and to meet customers.

Of course, silly to be both the CEO, and the courier. Any specific and incompatible roles need just to be given on outsourcing. Instead of being an accountant or the courier, mortgage 20% of the time for work of the director of development better. For the small company it megavazhno. If you do not do it, then even if at you everything is good, in half a year you will appear in crisis. And in a year everything will become even worse. Therefore 20% of time need to be found for thoughts and ideas as it is possible to optimize something, to make something new whom to give up partnership how to increase quality of work. Thereby and you will behave in a tone, and your business will have bigger potential to growth.

18. Terms

Remember that as the first person of the company, you are responsible for all its misses. The main criterion of your inefficiency — non-performance of the obligations in time to the customer. Even if it is your own project, you have to meet in time. Always consider risks of which your contractors can not think. You treat with care estimates of developers, especially if it is not superprofessionals — less experienced developers are inclined to revaluate strongly the forces, often are mistaken concerning the fact what can be made and that it is impossible.

Consulting with the developer, consider his opinion, but make a decision. Try to understand technology aspects, to understand an essence of a question and, having passed through itself, to make a decision on terms or a possibility of implementation of some task.

By the way, there are managers possessing a broad outlook, but without sufficient technical skills. And when developers speak: "It cannot be made", those answer: "But Facebook made". And developers begin to dig as it is made.

Yes, also do not try to push together people foreheads, especially in small command and the beginning company. If one developer says that he will make it in two days, then do not reproach another: "Mischa told that in two days he will make, and you promise for five". So you will create a conflict situation which will not lead to anything good. It is necessary to be able to stop such things at the earliest stage.

19. Honesty

Most likely, at an early stage at you everything will be bad. Will seem that you are in time nothing that money disappears somewhere, and they really will disappear somewhere. The main thing, do not deceive yourself and people with whom you work.

It is not obligatory to tell your clients that they at you only more nobody is interested in you. If you have a deadline in a week, and you are not in time, then it is better to notify all, both customers, and participants of process, but all the same to try to be in time. It is very important reputation point. If you once promised and did not make, then the second time you will not be believed any more, and in the third — will not work with you. Not always just to be fair, especially if the customer — some big company with the charismatic leader. It will be difficult for it to tell: "You know, we somehow nedorasschitat". But it is better to make it and to become history as the fair guy, than to mess up, receive penalties and to lose the customer.

Even more difficult fairly to fix the losses. In any business, in any process it is necessary to know where you have a non-return point. Count in advance how many money you are ready to spend fruitlessly before finish the project, you will freeze or cancel absolutely. A huge number of projects go to financial holes only because their creators or managing directors do not find forces in time to stop or it there is not enough experience and knowledge.

If you spent, say, 30% of the budget and all look like the project will never beat off and you will not return money, then, without reflecting and without being sorry, finish the project and you pass to another. You will save time, forces and money and many times still thank yourself for it.

One more situation close to two previous and characteristic of the small companies developers working with freelancers and separate commands. You something were not in time, did not make or made poor — but you are not ready to provide result of works now. And write you: "How are you doing?", or phone calls, and to you it is so awkward and terrible that you vanish, and in couple of days call back. It happens both in life, and in study. This effect of a snowball can ruin your very many good initiatives. Problems come and leave, but it is necessary to save a continuous communication with people with whom you work which depend on you or wait for results of works. Even if it will be rated even if you are called not to consult about affairs, and be not afraid to swear.

20. Assessment

And the latest, but important for any head — develop system of estimates and always estimate on it the work on each of projects, on each of the undertakings. You can thank yourself, having purchased cookie, you can give yourself the excellent or hundred points or not give yourself cookie and deliver 25 points. But to estimate the work very important because the CEO or the managing director is a key employee of the company. And in the small company 60% of success of the organization depend on it, and its permanent job over increase of the efficiency is the key to success.

What more you will undertake responsibility, to look for the miscalculations and to work on them, that more next time at you will be occasions of to praise and the following project will be better for those.

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