The fine art of choosing an undiscovered destination…And then building a boat to get yourself there! And the best part is that no one can teach you how to do this. You have to learn it the hard way.
So, everyday we learn – about the market, about our consumers, about ourselves! But what no one prepares us for is the speed at which we have to learn and then unlearn the same thing. Because what we need to learn and practise in the 1st phase of our startup – bootstrapping – is what we need to unlearn in the second phase of our startup – scaling. Let me explain.
Bootstrapping – DIY 101
When you bootstrap a business, money = longevity of your business. So you hoard it, ration it, scowl like scrooge over every paisa you have to spend. You stay up nights doing things yourself – building your website on wordpress, designing your UI on powerpoint, even learning to write code (much to the dismay of your developer) and out of all that unpaid slave labor, a business is born.
Scaling up – Delegation 101
Then you get funded and start the scary journey of scaling up – of trying a hundred things to find the two or three that really work, of making costly mistakes that burn money and your heart.
And as you scale, you realise that you can’t do it yourself. That you need people – ideally good people who can do things better than you can, at a fraction of what they would ideally like to get paid – who can help you do those hundred things faster and better. And that’s where it gets sticky.
DIY or Delegate?
Every task then becomes a trade-off. Do I do this myself? Do I hire someone who can do it as well as I can? (And there’s a lot of ego that gets steadily deflated here because, face it, most web designers are going to do a much better job on that website than you did!) If I hire someone, what if the business fails and they lose their jobs? Do I really need this resource? Am I sure I’m not being wasteful? And so on…
And then sooner or later comes the inevitable epiphany…If I spend all my time doing ‘this’, then who’s going to take the business to the next level? Who’s going to create the vision, build the team and deliver on the dream? Who’s going to pick the horizon, if I’m busy building the boat!?!
Chase the horizon.
Dreaming is a hard job. The dream has to be perfect in every respect, down to the last minute detail, every petal of every flower intact. And bringing it to life is even harder. So, take a step back and release that offer letter or handover that project. Let them make the first inevitable mistakes (try not to wince in front of them) and then encourage them to get up and try again.
Let them build the boat. Because you have to chase the horizon!