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The PhatDeals Blog

March 25, 2009

Lessons From a Young Manager: The Right Team

Hi Everyone. Today’s edition of the Phlog is entitled “The Right Team”, and is Part 1 of a series of posts about lessons learned as a young manager.

The Right Team

When Jon and I started PhatDeals back in September 2007 I don’t think we fully appreciated just how much manpower it would take to see the company take on the shape of our vision.  Now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I’d like to share some of my insights with you.

Get Buy-in

Let me share with you my philosophy with starting a company out of college: Get Buy-in.

What is Buy-in? Buy-in is when a person believes. Believes in what you do, believes in the product, believes in you and your team. Believes.

When starting a web company, the first question a non-programmer asks themselves is “Am I going to out-source, or will I hire someone?” My answer is to do neither; instead, bring them on as a partner. Make sure your web programmer has bought into the idea, and bring them on as a partner.

This has been our strategy here at PhatDeals, and I believe it’s been key in helping us to avoid many of the pitfalls startups normally face. The site looks amazing because Jon and Ruben are partners in the firm. If you’re considering starting up a company, permit me to suggest that instead of hiring employees who may or may not believe in your company, that you give new team members stock options and voting rights, and thereby gain both financial and personal investment from your staff themselves. As the Co-Founder of PhatDeals, it makes me happy to think of our Director of Sales and Marketing attending to a previously-unexplored way to format the excel monthly report- because it’s soo much cooler now, or of our Director of User Experience up past his bedtime, experimenting with new widget ideas for the next feature release. You just won’t find that with people you’re paying hourly to clock in and clock out.

Next, a great tool for helping to secure Buy-in.

Vision and Mantra

The first thing we did when we set out on building PhatDeals was write down a Vision Statement and Mantra. I had picked up this tidbit of advice from Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, one of the books in Professor Greathouse’s Entrepreneurship class. The purpose of outlining a Vision and Mantra is that these two act as the bedrock of your company, an anchor for you to depend on when times get tough or the right decision seems elusive. The Vision is a picture in words describing the desired effect your venture will have on the world around. The Mantra is a short phrase to be used only within the organization- the core value of the group. At the very first meeting between Jon and I, we developed ours. On the first page of the notebook I keep for PhatDeals, you’ll find this:

PhatDeals Vision Statement and MantraIt says: PhatDeals Philosophy. Vision Statement: Connecting people, one deal at a time. Mantra: Community first.  These are the guiding principles behind PhatDeals.  Our raison d’etre is to connect small businesses to their communities, thereby helping everyone. Our mantra is “Community First” because we are in it for the community, not the almighty dollar.

So, why did I tell you about our Vision and Mantra? Because they offer a coherent way to keep our shared vision a tight, cohesive one. When we bring on a new person, if they can grok those two concepts then most else tends to fall into place.

Thanks for tuning in, folks. Next time I’ll bring you Part 2 of Lessons from a Young Manager: The Right Motivation