“A lot of companies that are doing well in the early stages, especially who’ve achieved product market fit, don’t have a solid foundation in place,” says Terry Lee, Founder of Panacea Skincare, a new Korean beauty-inspired brand “So things start to fall apart, whether it’s communication or alignment within the team.”
An entrepreneur at heart, this is a fact Terry knows well.
Before founding Panacea, Terry was the COO of MeUndies where he was employee number seven (there are now 100+) and helped grow the company from $5 million to $50 million in annual revenue. A key driver of this rapid growth? Structure, team alignment, and effective communication.
Now on a new journey at Panacea, Terry knows from his past experience building companies that it takes more than an innovative idea and product-market fit to be successful. The first tool he turns to for help? Asana.
“When you start a company, there’s so much going on and resources are limited—time, money, people,” Terry said. “You’re wearing a lot of different hats so you need an effective way to keep track of everything.”
Asana helps Panacea organize all of their work, manage every process for the business, and stay aligned so they can move fast, grow, and scale successfully. And with an ambitious vision for Panacea, Terry is implementing many of the practices he knows will create structure within the company, so they’re set up for success from the get-go.
Here are the top three practices Terry and his team have implemented since starting Panacea (hint: they include a little help from Asana :wink:.)
Stay on top of every detail
Based on his experience at MeUndies, Terry knew that his team needed to begin tracking everything as they developed the idea and business plan for Panacea in one place. This is where he turned to Asana. The simplicity and flexibility of it is perfect for their needs, and it lets them structure and organize their work (projects, to-dos, files, etc.) in the way that makes the most sense for their business.
“We actually used Asana to launch Panacea. It was really important that we tracked everything in one place as we developed the business.”
They started by creating a project and then began tracking everything in tasks as they developed their business plan and company—from legal paperwork to product development to marketing activities. While the team wasn’t sure if they needed to track everything in Asana at first, they quickly saw the value—it kept everything centralized and organized—and committed to using it.
With a central place to store and track all information, Asana gave the Panacea team the structure they needed to stay aligned as they successfully executed their soft launch in November 2017.
Turn discussions into actionable work
After creating initial structure within the business by tracking and organizing all of their work and information in Asana, Terry knew from his time at MeUndies that they needed to define communication conventions. These guidelines and practices are essential to keeping the structure they built intact so they could scale rapidly with a lean team.
“When you’re just starting out with three people like we did, communicating about work is seamless because you’re sitting next to each other. You don’t need a ton of structure or architecture built-in,” says Terry. “But as soon as you get beyond 6-8 people, communication becomes more complex and you need to be intentional about it.”
“As you get beyond 6-8 people, communication becomes more complex and you need to be intentional about it.”
To give their communication structure, Terry and the team again turned to Asana. Now when discussions (in person, over Slack, or via email) about new product ideas or potential marketing initiatives result in action items, they’re recorded in Asana as tasks with assignees and due dates so they’re trackable.
This way, it’s clear to everyone who is responsible for each piece of work, what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done by. Then as the team has questions, feedback, or thoughts to share, they comment on the corresponding task to keep everything connected instead of yelling across the room, “Hey, do you have that, or hey are you gonna get that done?” This helps hold teammates accountable, ensures work gets done, and creates an archive to reference for future needs.
The team also relies heavily on the Asana mobile app to capture to-dos and check in on work when they’re away from their desks. Since all work for Panacea is tracked and managed in Asana, they can access files, comment on tasks, and stay updated on progress no matter where they are.
Create a standard process for onboarding new team members
While the Panacea team is currently small, they have aggressive hiring plans and are building out a thorough and comprehensive hiring roadmap.
Before bringing a ton of new team members on board, however, Terry and the team are creating a standard onboarding process for both hiring managers and new employees to follow. Not only does this give the onboarding process structure, but it also empowers hiring managers to own the process (rather than HR), and their new employees have the information they need to be successful in their role from day one. At MeUndies, this was a process that helped Terry and the team scale quickly and effectively—and they’re hoping for the same results at Panacea.
To standardize the process, Terry and the team are creating a new hire onboarding project template in Asana for managers to use that includes all documents and information—HR forms, company guidelines, links to important web pages and tools, surveys, etc.—new employees need to hit the ground running in their new role at Panacea. This way, every new employee receives the same information and can reference it at any time within Asana.
“The great thing is that with a tool like Asana, you have the flexibility to create a process like this that is both efficient (since you’re not reinventing the wheel every time) and gives the hiring manager ownership over onboarding their new team member,” Terry says.
Remember to always lead by example
Today, Terry and the Panacea rely on the structure they’ve built in Asana to run their entire business—it’s embedded in everything they do. “I’m a big believer that you have to lead from the top, and you have to practice what you preach,” says Terry. “We’re really bought into using Asana and are the power users amongst the team. We want to set the right precedent and example.”
While they’re still a small team and just getting started, they know that they can only achieve their ambitious growth plans if they stay organized, aligned, and communicate effectively. To do that, they’re relying on the structure and processes they’ve built with Asana.
In addition to running Panacea, Terry also advises other early stage companies in Los Angeles and helps them set their companies up for long-term success. One of his first recommendations? Track and manage everything for your business in Asana.