Scaling Your Business

Building Blocks

Your Business Is a Flow Chart

I like to visualize Setaris as a flow chart, and the same paradigm is useful for thinking about other businesses. Each box corresponds to a particular department or role. For us, the main boxes on the flow chart are:

  • Marketing: Finding people who might want to work with us.

  • Sales: Proposing solutions to them.

  • Development: Building their product.

  • Testing: Making sure it actually works!

  • Project Management: Keeping things on schedule.

  • Finance: Bookkeeping, taxes, paying bills, all the fun stuff.

But All These Departments Are Really Just Me!

When we first started, all these roles were filled by the founders. We marketed, sold, coded, tested, and managed each project. The problem is that there are only so many hours in a day. So as the business grew, we had to start bringing on other people. One of our first moves was to find some other developers. This came naturally to us because our background in engineering made it easy to assess which applicants were strong technologically. As we made progress finding developers, we had more time available to build other parts of the business. On some products we’d work exclusively as project managers or testers, and this helped us to better understand those roles. We’d keep at this until a position was well-defined and we knew what to look for in candidates. After that, we’d begin searching for people who could fill those roles. When we found them, it freed up time to work on the next department. By repeating this cycle, Setaris was able to do more and more without always needing the founders to be involved.

Dipping Your Toe In

Even if you know very little about a particular field, you can get started by running small experiments. Set aside a small budget and find something that looks interesting to you. For example, you might spend a few hours selecting keywords and running a Google AdWords campaign. The idea here is to break through the inertia that can develop when facing uncertainty about how to proceed. Just pick something small that won’t kill you if it doesn’t work, and then get to it.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

After following this approach for a while, you will develop an intuition for which departments are ready to become more formalized. Maybe you’ve organized the sales process well enough that you feel comfortable going out and hiring someone to take it over, or perhaps you realize that your current marketing approach is so disorganized that it is holding other parts of your business back. Once you make some changes, you should see a nice improvement in productivity as your time is freed up to work on other areas including (of course) organizing the next department.

Eric Heinz

Like Jay-Z, Eric is not a businessman, he's a business, man. That means he spends his day figuring out how to turn great technologies into great businesses. He's honed this skillset by studying wide swaths of business history, focusing on successful tech firms in particular. When not working on strategy, he likes to pick up stocks on the cheap.

Before "going corporate" he would spend all day writing code and doing math, picking up a Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Engineering at Cooper Union (all in just a very busy three years) and working as a Research Fellow at Cornell. He still "comes out of retirement" when the spirit, or the pleas of a client, move him: writing Python or iOS programs late into the night. In his spare time he likes to run Ironman Triathlons, which is more relaxing than it sounds.

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