It’s natural that many entrepreneurs start companies with a task list that looks a lot like it did at their old job. After all, they’re likely coming from an established career in a big company. Big companies (usually) have the critical infrastructure in place and as inefficient as they may be, workers are free to look much farther down the road.
Startup Founders don’t get the luxury of looking too far down the road. They don’t get to spend inordinate amounts of time on product development or internal policy making. For this reason, a startup Founder’s priority list looks a whole lot different.
Get Money in the Door
A Founder’s most important question is “do we have enough money to make it past our next milestone?” If the Founder can’t answer “yes,” then solving customer problems, addressing HR issues, and planning for the long term just won’t matter.
An underfunded company doesn’t have to worry about these issues. That’s because without additional capital, they will soon be out of business altogether! Therefore a startup needs to focus on keeping the lights on before it can even worry about solving day-to-day issues.
It’s not uncommon for a startup to spend far more time selling to investors than it does to customers.
It’s not uncommon for a startup to spend far more time selling to investors than it does to customers. While this may feel like a distraction (which it is), it’s a necessary evil that supersedes all other activities.
Sell More Stuff
Aside from raising capital to get started, sales are by far the most important activity any company can spend its time on. A simple way to consider this priority is – if you have sales and a crappy product, you can afford to improve your product. If you have a great product and no sales, you’re dead.
It’s a widely held belief that a great product will sell itself. Sure, great products sell better, but perfection can’t be pursued at the expense of a massive sales effort. Very few products are just so great that they sell themselves and become profitable.
What drives a company forward is its ability to focus its time on actually selling the product in the market, not refining the product in the lab.