Figuring out how to build and run a business isn’t easy—and a lot of the moves you need to make aren’t intuitive. However, too many people approach it by just copying what it seems like everyone else is doing without taking a hard look at what your actual goals are and really learning how to go about the job of Founder and CEO.
They’re “playing startup” as opposed to actually building a company.
How do you know which is which? It’s easy…
If the very first thing you did after coming up with your idea was make a pitch deck for fundraising, versus trying to sell or test customers on it, you’re probably playing startup, not building a company.
If your idea is something that doesn’t actually reflect how anything in the space actually operates, because you have little to no experience in that space, nor have you spent significant time getting up to speed, you’re playing startup.
If all you’ve done so far has been fundraising, and you’ve yet to do any of the things that don’t actually require money, like identify talent, build up your thought leadership in the space, design and/or test prototypes, you’re playing startup.
If your idea hasn’t changed at all, despite not getting any traction on fundraising, hiring, or customer signups, and your biggest complaint is how much fundraising sucks or that VCs won’t take risks or fund founders like you, you’re playing startup.
If you don’t work on financial models, hiring plans, product roadmaps, marketing schedules, or any of the other tools real companies use to bring order to the chaos that is creating something out of nothing, you’re playing startup.
When your whole recruiting strategy is just putting up job posts—descriptions of the opportunity that don’t differentiate why working for you would be any different than working for anyone else—and then you complain that hiring is really hard when no one amazing applies, you’re playing startup.
Company builders have strong and differentiated value propositions for their employees because they’re actually building values based cultures—and then they roll up their sleeves and outbound their way to the type of people they know specifically they’re looking for, at scale.
If you only share anecdotes when you meet with or e-mail your investors, without actually building out dashboards, charts and other ways of objectively tracking goals and metrics on a regular basis so that you can compare performance against plan and across time, you’re playing startup.
If you’ve ever said the word “managing investors” because you see their presence as a burden—a one way task of reporting that just gets in the way of working on your company as opposed to a sounding board and a check of your blindspots by people who are seeing way more companies from the inside than you’ve ever been at, you’re playing startup.
If you can’t admit to your co-founder, your employees, your investors and to yourself that you’ve undoubtedly made mistakes, you’re playing startup.
Companies are built on accountability.
When month after month, where you said you were going to be isn’t where you are, but there’s no change in strategy or at least asking for help, you’re playing startup.
When most of your focus is on the next round versus optimizing hiring, marketing, and selling, you’re playing startup.
I’m actively funding company builders in NYC—13 deals (11 led), plus three term sheets out in the last year.
Please reach out!