Operating effectively and efficiently

In the initial phase, when the company is still very small, this should not be much of a problem. The team is small, the commitment is high, and the communication lines are short. With the progress of the project, the mix of the required capabilities has to change and becomes more diverse and complex, and this needs proactive management. Finding the right balance between the capabilities that need to be in-house or those that can be accessed via partners or outsourcing is not always straightforward. Core capabilities need to be in-house. The extreme cases of either all capabilities inhouse or all outsourced have proved to be inadequate or inefficient.

When the start-up moves to or beyond stage II in addition to technical departments, it will need commercial and business development departments, and ultimately also supporting functions such as human resources, ITC, legal, or even PR. For a start-up with 10-15 staff, there is not much need for a formal structure and functions such as finance may still be part-time jobs. For a technology-based company, a simple functional structure for the organization is usually adequate, with departments such as R&D, Commercial, Business Development, and Finance reporting to the CEO. When the organization grows to a level of 50-100 employees, supporting departments may become required and the organization might become more complex or shift to a different model or elements of it, such as the matrix or network model.

Important features of a good organization are being flat, flexible, and low on bureaucracy and hierarchy. The business processes and internal communications have to be developed in line with the complexity of the organization for ensuring alignment and consistency. Part of organizing for success is ensuring that these requirements are met in a timely fashion.

Meeting legal requirements

It is obvious that a company should take care that it adheres to all the legal and regulatory requirements, but for a start-up this can be a challenge because the company may simply not be aware of all the rules on such diverse issues as waste handling, emissions, employment, training, reporting, etc.

It is best practice that Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) aspects receive priority attention. An incident in the SHE area is always a serious event with high emotional elements. Great care should be taken for preventing ‘avoidable incidents’. A SHE accident always leads to involvement of authorities with potentially serious negative impact on the company, including temporary or permanent interruption of the activities.

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