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A start-up is about doing EVERYTHING before you are ready
You will never be ready to do what you have to do to run a company. If you feel like you are, you are wrong or you are not pushing hard enough.
Working in the start-up industry is all about doing things before you are ready. Hiring, building, marketing, selling, managing people, delegating core responsibilities and letting go- you have to start before you’re comfortable and before you have the resources or knoweldge to do the job “right.” Most of the time you have to start before you have any idea what you are doing, how to do it or sometimes even what to do (forget what to do next).
Keep things in perspective. At the beginning the problem is also the easiest it will ever be and the consequences of being wrong are the smallest. The first decision is what to do first. If you are wrong, you just try another “first step.” When my daughter was born I had no idea what I was doing. The first night in the hospital, she would cry and all the things that could be wrong would race through my mind. I was trying to remember all the books I read, the advice I got, the things the doctors and nurses had said…I had no idea.
My dad gave me some great advice, “Just listen to her and do you best to give her what she needs. But always listen.”
It turned out he was right. When she cried those first few days, she either needed her diaper changed, needed to eat or needed to sleep. Simple (if you listen). I stopped trying to remember all the things I had read, all the things I had been told and just listened to her — checked her diaper, tried to feed her or rocked her to sleep. Success.
If you really knew me, you would know I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing as a parent, but now she is two and the challenges are very different. It is the same with a start-up. You will never be ready, but if you listen, you will grow as a manager as the company grows and becomes more complex. Initially there will be a limited number of inputs and outcomes, and as you learn to master these, the company will grow and the market will change and you’ll have a new set of challenges to handle and master. This is part of the beauty of working at a startup; you’ll constantly be challenged and intellectually tried. As you learn to chew, the bite size will increase.
So all I can say is start before you’re ready, because starting will teach you how.