Originally posted on Silicon Bayou News as “Learning to Go With It When You Start to Blow Up.”
By: Maxwell Walters
Last week at 52businesses, we started out intending to spend Week 1 focusing on our internal business structures and marketing strategy. Unfortunately/fortunately, we were derailed pretty quickly. On Wednesday, Destination Hackathon recruited us to participate in its upcoming hackathon. As a team, we decided to put 52businesses on hold to go for it. On Friday night, at the beginning of the Hackathon, we pitched our first business idea Touracle — an app that allows users to curate tours of their city. Luckily, a group of web developers, led by Gant Laborde, had a very similar idea and we were able to join forces. By the end of the 48-hour Hackathon, our brilliant development team, dubbed Space Chicken (Gant Laborde, Bryan Joseph, Kurtis Rainbolt-Greene, Rob Caraway) had built a beautiful demo iOS app and website. Check out our full blog about the Destination Hackathon weekend and Touracle HERE.
Going into the demo presentation on Sunday afternoon, things looked great for the team. Unfortunately, a technical snafu left Jason and Gant unexpectedly without visuals of either the app or site. In spite of this major setback, our team took second place behind live streaming music app Herehear.com!
Our interns were complete superstars throughout the weekend, giving up every ounce of their free time to keep 52businesses rolling. Eric slept on the bus Saturday night, Sean headed straight to Bob after returning from his trip to New York for Venture For America, and Logan was at the Hackathon nearly the entire weekend. (Greg had 3 exams coming up this week, so he wisely stayed in to study).
With the Hackathon in full force and the team toiling away, 52businesses quickly began receiving tons of media attention. After our first post here, a nola.com article, another nola.com article, and an Entrepreneur.com article all aired within a week. Then, on Monday morning, Colin had the opportunity to present at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week with Gerard Ramos from Revelry. The sponsorship offers started rolling in and we made our first deal with our friends at 365Connect. The cherry on top came as Thomas Morstead visited us on Bob. Come by to see his signature on our ceiling (and stay tuned for more exciting news.)
As you might have guessed, with that whirlwind, 52businesses’ structure and marketing took a backseat. But we’ve learned a lot about what we need to do going forward, particularly if 52businesses keeps growing. Here are some of the important lessons we learned this week:
How to keep from drowning when business starts booming faster than expected:
1. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Even if you don’t have clear roles established for all team members, this is vital. You’ll go crazy if you try to do it all. More importantly, you’ll forget stuff.
2. Put assignments in writing in a central location so everyone’s on the same page. We use Asana.
3. Office management is vital to success. Even when your co-venturers are your friends, it’s necessary to set up policies to keep the office space clean, organized, and running like a well-oiled machine. You don’t have time to be distracted playing “find the bad smell.”
4. Schedule office walk-in hours (especially when your office is as awesome as Bob) to keep distractions minimal. We want people to come visit us in Bob, but, that said, having an open door policy is leading to a lot of wasted time transitioning between meeting and greeting and getting back on task.
5. Make agendas for absolutely EVERY meeting. Even the best of us tend to veer off-topic and when there’s more to discuss than you have time for, you’ll need something to keep you focused.
6. Show everyone on your team, from the interns to the CEO, some love. Working around the clock is hard, so make sure everyone feels appreciated. It’s not only the right thing to do, it builds loyalty.
We’ll add more strategies in the coming weeks–stay tuned!