I am a startup entrepreneur! I can do it all! I’m being lean! Not! These are common thought pitfalls which entrepreneurs can fall into. Lean is the new, well not so new, black. We have this tendency to want to do everything on the cheap with our own sweat and hard work. It’s one of the reasons we become entrepreneurs. But no one is all knowing and all powerful. No matter what that C-level title may make you feel, you aren’t Supergirl.
The Lean Startup trend has been very hot for the past few years in the startup community. For good reason. It preaches a philosophy of rapid prototype, test, and release to quickly get product to market and get valuable feedback from users. At first the product may not really bare any resemblance to your final vision, but you learn from the iterations pulling your customers with you along for the ride. It’s a practice applicable to all parts of your business from development to marketing. But it’s frequently taken too far.
Entrepreneurs have this nasty tendency to waste their time with trivialities like bookkeeping and accounting, when what they really should be doing is executing, marketing, and networking. How much time every month is spent doing these chores? Now more than ever, it’s really easy to free up some of that time by hiring people on the cheap per task, even tasks which may be core to your business. If it’s key to my businesses success, why would I ever give that to someone else to do?
It’s not always the case that “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” As the founder of your team, you have to take stock of your talent bank. What is it you and your team are competent to actually get done? If not competent, at least close enough, so that you can quickly come up to speed without derailing yourself. It’s a task that can be difficult. Everyone on your team has to be completely honest about their background and skill competencies. Just as importantly, they have to be honest with what it is they are willing to do on the team. They may have skills they have in great abundance, but which they no longer wish to ever use again. Some people hate the concept of having to wear multiple hats. I’ve been burned by this last one.
Now it's my job to look at our strategic plan and truly see what our needs are. I have to be frank about what it is I and my team are truly capable of doing. Right now I'm the UX designer and Principal Architect and CEO. Oh, and I have two kids. Can I handle all those and business operations? No. Can I make financial projections and all that myself? I can wing it, but...Dammit! I'm an engineer, not an MBA, Jim! Neither is anyone else on my team.
We need a COO to join our family. We are looking for a co-founder with an MBA who is willing to invest money into the company and can dedicate at least 20 hours a week. Ideally she should have experience in the healthcare industry and experience or training in fundraising. A sizable network of contacts within the healthcare industry would be just lovely. Since we like a close family, our COO-to-be should be within commuting distance of the metro-Boston area or willing to relocate here.
I’ll leave you with some potentially useful links to help you take the mundane off of your plate.
Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) - “People who love what they do help you get everything done at an unbeatable value.”
Mechanical Turk (www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome) - “We give business and developers access to an on-demand scalable workforce.”
Bench.co (www.bench.co) - “Online bookkeeping service that provides you tax-ready financial statements from professional bookkeepers.”
DesignCrowd (www.designcrowd.com) - “DesignCrowd is an online marketplace providing logo, website, print and graphic design services by providing access to freelance graphic designers and design studios around the world.”
Captable.io (www.captable.io) - “Build and share your cap table, conveniently and securely in the cloud. Create and issue stock classes and convertible instruments. Explore investment round and exit scenarios. Captable.io keeps everyone on the same page, provides transparency and helps avoid costly mistakes.”
Lean Startup (www.theleanstartup.com) - “Lean Startup isn't about being cheap [but is about] being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”