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The Secret To Successful Start-ups: Focus On People Not Tasks

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The temptation to concentrate on getting the job done rather than focus on the people doing the job is huge for start-ups yet can cause problems that could significantly impact the future of the business. Obviously, there are plenty of tasks that must be undertaken to get a business off the ground too. One of the biggest challenges of a start-up entrepreneur comes down to managing people and balancing that with the management skills required to get through the work to ensure that your teams work with you, take responsibility and feel part of your business as it grows.


Striking the right balance

The best performing start-ups understand the need to balance system, process and technology disciplines through a powerfully motivated and effective leader. As a start-up, it could be challenging to find the budget to hire a manager to plug the gaps in your own skill set and natural attributes. Therefore, money or time aside, it’s always worth working on your people skills. Statistics show that a large number (in the region of 75%) of people that voluntarily leave a job, do so because of the manager or boss, rather than the company or job itself.


So, it’s clear to see in a start-up, the impact you can have on the people within the company. You should aim to have them work with you, rather than simply working for you, if you want the support and commitment that will see them stay, share in the rough as well as smooth times and take responsibility alongside you while building the business. With this in mind, we explain how managing the people within your start-up will reap benefits over time to make managing the projects and workflow smoother.

Combining management and leadership skills

Managers are known for managing tasks, whereas leaders focus more on people and cultures, and the perfect leader of a start-up will be able to do both. Successful businesses are borne when those in charge can do both. You want a motivated workforce who actually gets the job done and shares in the success of the business at the same time. If you’re not sure you have the qualities to both lead and manage the business, it may well be looking into what courses could give you effective leadership skills.


Why lead and not just manage?

Managers tend to rely on authority, which can get the job done, but combine this with a good leader who can use motivation, inspiration and influence at an individual level to drive the workforce, and you’ll have a stronger, more committed foundation on which to build your business. A good manager will tend to have good cognitive intelligence. Yet, leaders rely on emotional intelligence to communicate change and requirements to the workforce, leading to a people-oriented business approach that can keep them stronger when things go wrong or during difficult times. When the workforces feel appreciated, valued and motivated by the skills of a good leader, they feel a sense of responsibility that brings a more significant commitment to the company.


Those who work for a transactionally motivated manager tend to feel less driven by the need to support the company than a paycheque at the end of the month. There are fewer cohesion and relationship attachments to their role. Within a start-up, a manager must communicate and build the relationships that successful leaders rely on.   Leaders will share and learn to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and use their knowledge to inspire and motivate groups to take responsibility and accountability willingly. In this way, they foster a support network that works for the greater good.

Tasks are essential, but the people behind the job are vital

Building better personal relationships is vital. That means listening, hearing and responding. A genuine interest in the people behind the tasks will lead to better communication, productivity, and wellbeing. This will see work get done, profits increase, and the business becomes more successful. When you understand how your team operate and can suitable challenge them without overwhelming them, you will get the best from the workforce. A purely task-driven manager will be unable to recognise struggles and lack the means to make changes that avoid delays or missed deadlines in advance. This blindness can see them having to discipline or give negative feedback when a simple understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of individuals could result in better project planning techniques that negated such needs.


Managers must at least have the benefit of mutual respect and a relationship with the people concerned to make such approaches more person-centred. A manager will often delegate a task, but only a leader can bring the much-needed accountability and responsibility that can see people grow and be the best they can be, which ultimately benefits the business as well as employee self-esteem and wellbeing.


With many workers feeling undervalued or underutilised in their roles, it’s not surprising that large numbers believe that a poor manager is a reason for their lack of progress or work opportunity. Contrast this to a team managed by a leader who understands the need to support and engage staff and execute tasks in a communicative and empowering way. It is those who will find it easier to retain a loyal and dedicated workforce. Therefore, it is important to consider how to improve your leadership skills so you can get the balance of managing and leading right.



If you get the people side of management right, the tasks side will likely fall more naturally. Learn when to be a boss, mentor, motivator, disciplinarian, and sometimes just use effective communication skills so you can be an ear in good and bad times. Be there with the resources, support and decisions that will empower your staff to make your start up successful. Investing in the team’s future will give your business a future and build the stars there for you when the business grows. Suppose you can foster an environment that supports individual growth beyond what they can do on day one. It will undoubtably help you secure a more loyal and secure team that is there when your business grows, or you need additional support from someone who understands what drives you and your business brand. People no longer want a role that demands that they do a day’s work to be paid at the end of the month. By concentrating on what your workforce want, and delivering leadership as well as task management, you will undoubtedly reap the rewards, gaining respect as well as a brighter future for your business.


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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