5 things startup founders should focus on
Founders of startups are always looking for the reason why some startups fail and others success. ?Often there isn't one single reason, but more often than not it can be linked to where and how the founders spend their time. ?Sadly, from an CFOs?perspective,?this one isn't about money, although it's on the list. ?Transitioning a startup into a?business requires a razor sharp focus on the part of the founding team. ?Founders not only need to know when to let go, but they need to?know which fires to fight and which fires can be left burning a little longer.A startup will also have fires burning that is what makes business exciting. ?There is always going to be problems and those problems often require intellect to resolve. ?As exciting as this may be, the founding team's day only has a certain amount of time in it. ?What's worse they?will only have a certain amount of energy as well. ?Founders simply cannot be everywhere and if they?try, burnout often?occurs. This loss of, or lack of focus?often causes irrepairable?damage the business.Sure the simple answer is to hire additional employees. ?But not every startup has the luxury of an endless supply of capital. ?Plus there's the question of which?employee and when. ?You will be bringing on specialists who will quickly become frustrated with the ambiguity, that's why they often aren't founders themselves.The answer then is to keep the business simple at the start and understand your role. ?This gives founders clarity when choosing the?fires to fight and when. ? It is actually quite ok to ignore emails and competitors if those aren't within your focus areas.
5 Focus areas for founders
Understanding which fires to fight first though is the defining problem, the problem many founders struggle with. ?So where to start, here is a list of five areas all founders should be focused on:
- Product-market fit
- What the founders do
- People - hiring and company culture
- Having enough cash.
Put simply if you find yourself drawn to anything other than these, sure, the fire is burning, but if it's not going to be a raging fire that could burn down the house, is it really that important. ?If the fire is burning within though groups, put it out and move on to the lower burning issues.
The importance?of the founders role
Look at?number 3 on the list - its what the founders do. ?Or more importantly the role the founders have within the startup. ?Some may argue that that's easy, the founders fit into the roles of CEO, CTO, anything that in the old style organisation could be considered a chief. ?Well, that's not entirely true.Startups are initially foundered on passion and excitement. ?This boils down to a group of founders?operating as generalists. ?They do everything. ?Accounting, marketing and sales through to software development. It's enough to exhaust anyone but it does create the flat, team environment that startups are renowned for.The very reason why many?entrepreneurs are attracted to startups in the first place.As the business grows through, there becomes a need to hire specialists. Through is who and when . ?Understanding of the role of founders and the role they will play in the future ?allows the business to hire the right people needed for the challenges growth will present. ?For example, many startup founders have never managed a team, have never reported to a board of directors, have no experience in corporate governance or don't know about what it really means to grow a brand. ?This lack of knowledge can be replaced through advisors, mentors and even employees.Understanding that the role of the founding team may not include CEO,?President/Chairman of the board, Chief Marketing Officer or even CFO means the founding team can hire the right team for the growth stage. ?It also means the founding team can delegate accountability and responsibility more readily.Why do this.It reduces the number of fires founds need to put out. Giving the founding team ability?to focus on the areas that are important growing and scaling the business. ?Having the right product, making sure there is product market fit, having the right people and making sure there's enough cash.