There’s a classic catch-22 of running a business: most of the time, the person who has the initial idea doesn’t have the skill or expertise to create it. There’s another adage that my grandfather used to say that goes nicely with this – ideas are a dime a dozen.
One of the questions I get asked all the time by entrepreneurs surrounds this: how can I execute on my idea? Usually, what they mean is “How can I convince someone to do all the skilled labor for free while I sit back and take credit for my “idea?” This is called a “technical cofounder.”
The advice I offer is fairly straightforward. It mainly consists of three parts:
The first part filters out a surprisingly large number of people. Interestingly, oncepeople I’ve encounteredfind that effort is required beyond having the initial idea, many lose interest.
For those who are still interested, however, they often have a bit of a learning curve. Many businesses today are technology based in some way, but not everyone is a programmer. And when you’re starting out, you are always pre-revenue, so hiring someone to code something is probably not a good use of precious funds.
That said, there are a few ways a non-technical person can pop up a tech-enabled business by themselves without hiring a developer.
At Shoptalk 2018 in Las Vegas, Amazon announced that they’ve hired more developers for their AI teams thanGoogle has for similar endeavors. With that news, it’s a sure bet that Amazon Alexa is here to stay. The framework for Alexa is based on something called an “Alexa Skill” –this is the architecture that allows you to say “Alexa <your company name>”.
By creating Alexa Skills that connect to your company’s products, you’ll be way ahead of the curve. If you’re not a programmer, you can use the new Storyline application’s drag and drop creator to make your own Skills with no prior knowledge required. This way, customers with Alexa-enabled products will be able to talk directly to your service– no hands needed!
If you thought it would be a great idea to have an application for your product, you might have thought about getting a quote from a developer. Depending on how complex, it could be thousands — or hundreds of thousands of dollars for an app, and take months or years to complete.
Enter Bubble.is and Glitch.com – both sites enable non-developers to create their own web apps and publish them, for free. They’re easy to use and have tutorials and open communities to help you out. Recently, a startup using Bubble even got into the prestigious YCombinator program.
If you do any business on the Web (and really, most businesses should be) then you should have a chatbot helping you. This can be your customer service team, your sales funnel, your administrative assistant, even your online store.
Previously something you’d have to hire a developer to do for you, now you can use something like Manychat or HelloTars to program them simply and easily and plug them into anywhere you want to connect with people.
What list would be complete without mentioning the first hurdle that most businesses have to jump – websites? Without a homepage on the internet, it’s as if you don’t exist
The venerable Squarespace and Weebly have been around forever, helping solo entrepreneurs make professional-looking sites that look good enough to get going.
While these won’t replace a technical resource in your company permanently, they definitely will get you past the initial phases of starting your business. And when you’re just starting out, that’s all you really need.
You may realize thatsleep is key toproductivity, but research also points to its importance for leaders.
Your sleep routine may be downright essential to your work and the success of your business. Eti Ben Simon, a neuroscientist and postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, points to several studies that track sleep’s impact on productivity, including one by Christopher M. Barnes and Nathaniel F. Watsonpublished in February 2019that looked at how sleep can help maximize employee effectiveness.
Team leaders’ lack of sleepcould even diminish their perceived charisma in the eyes of their employees, according to another study by Barnes, along with Cristiano L. Guarana, Shazia Nauman, and Dejun Tony Kong,published in May 2016.
“A good night’s sleep is important for every system in our bodies from our brains to how we’re motivated, to how we deal with stress, all the way down to our immune response–which is very relevant right now,” says Ben Simon.
Sleep “istied to optimal functioning,” saysAric Prather, an associate professor at UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, who has studied the subject for 15 years. Sleep plays arole in emotional health and physical health andis critical for a strong immune system, he says.
So, how can you get your best sleep? The experts have some suggestions:
Prather and Ben Simon each cite the importance of a more or less fixed sleep schedule, sevendays a week. That means going to bed at the same time every night, especially when your body begins to signal that you’re tired,and waking at the same time every morning.
To ensure you have a good transition into sleep, create a wind-down routine,Prather suggests. “Cue your body that night is here,” he says.That may mean turning off your devices, stopping your intake of news and information, and taking a shower or bath to ramp up your parasympathetic nervous system and bring on sleep.
“The goal is to let your body let go of all the engaging and angsty things that happened throughout the day,” he says.
“It’s important to keep regularity in the hours you go to sleep and wake up,” says Ben Simon. “When sleep corresponds to a rhythm, I like to give the analogy of riding your bike with the wind at your back: When you’re in sync with your rhythm, the quality of sleep is better.”
Waking up in the night is normal–especially when worries may intrude on good sleep–but tossing and turning in bed as you try to fall back to sleep hinders restfulness.
“If you’re not able to sleep, and you’re awake for 20 or 30 minutes, you want to get out of bed,” says Prather. Tossing and turning have the potential to counter the conditioned arousal that lets your brain and body associate your bed with sleep. To reset yourself, Prather suggests getting out of your bed. “Try to wind yourself down again. Read, watch a little TV. Something until you begin to feel sleepy again and then get back in bed,” he says.
And try not to worry too much. Anxiety and sleep are bidirectional,Ben Simon notes.”If you’ve had a bad night, you’re likely to have a worse day,” she says. “If you have a bad day, you’re likely to have bad sleep. If you get better sleep, that’s enough to reduce anxiety the next day.”
This is a big one for founders and company leaders to keep in mind: The way you help structure your employees’days can set the tone for their nights.
“I would recommend that employers let employees know sleep is valued here,” says Ben Simon. She suggests not sending your team emails late in the evening with the expectation that they will respond immediately and not setting meeting times so early in the morningthat they might cause your team to losesleep. “The most important thing is to prioritize sleep,” she says.
Supporting your team’s ability to get good sleep canhave a huge impact on your company’s culture and bottom line.
“I do a lot of work on sleep and the immune system, and we really have shown fairly conclusively that when people get, say, less than less than six hours of sleep per night on average, they are significantly more likely to get a cold,” Prather says. “It’s very, very clear that sleep is a crucial piece to protecting you from infectious disease.”
That has been important for long time, but now it’s even more essential–and potentially lifesaving.
Want to keep up to date with all the latest news and events?