/Firing Yourself: The key to survive a Startup – Part 2

Firing Yourself: The key to survive a Startup – Part 2

In my last article, I spoke about how as a startup founder, you are bad at delegating, and end up struggling to manage your time because you do too many tasks yourself that should have been handed off a long time ago.

How do you know if you’re that person?

If you’re ending multiple days with a to-do list that looks bigger than it was in the morning, you’re doing something wrong. And in your heart-of-hearts, you already know that.

In this post, I will talk about a three-legged framework I’ve seen work best for founders that have scaled up successfully.

1. Trust the people you hired.

Employees were hired for a reason, so let them do what they are skilled at — their jobs. Stick to management tasks, and stop constantly checking on the team. Trusting them to fulfil their roles without watching their every move shows faith and allows the team to grow. 

Even if you can manage all the functions of your business better than everyone else, should you?

Set proactive KPIs so you can catch mistakes as they happen: if you’re delegating development to the VP of engineering, set up an acceptable number of bugs in the product that the customers have reported. Rest must be self-diagnosed. Any more and you know there’s something wrong.

Similarly, the proactive KPI for an account management team would be to have a 48-hour window for problem resolution. Have a defined dataset and defined metric for reporting to keep your micro-managing tendencies in check. Hopefully.

2. Your 100-hour work weeks are not helpful. They’re just burning you out.

People working more than 50 hours are often estimating 30% of it wrong. You can guess in which direction. 

With an overburdened to-do list, you cross out smaller items that don’t add much value, but make you feel better. 

I’m a numbers guy, so let me break down this problem for you. 

If you’re handling the company’s books – which takes about 6 hours a month – because well, you’ll pay attention to minute details and maybe save the company $400. Great job.

But what if those 6 hours a month could have been redirected to that sales meeting – closing which could have made the company (and its largest equity holder – you!) make millions.

3. Know if you’re meant for creating, not managing.

If you want to maintain the vision as CEO, and work best in out-of-control unstructured environments, but need help with the nuts and bolts of managing a growing company, hiring a COO can be your solution.

Take it from Playwire founder Jayson Dubin. As his company began to grow, he found himself “in the office every day, dealing with an assortment of HR, IT, technical, office management, and building issues,” unable to handle what he did best: customer acquisition and retention.

“Hiring a COO introduced a layer of process and control that was missing from our organization,” Dubin says in his piece for VentureBeat.

Sometimes we are too biased to take an objective decision. In such a situation, you should consider getting an independent audit done – a fresh pair of eyes will be able to tell you the difficult things you need to hear. Fresh pair of eyes will make you hear! 🙂 

Let me end on a cautionary note. 

You owe it to the company you’re building, and your investors who are counting on you to optimize your time, and to use it to deliver the maximum value addition you can. Most of all, you owe it to yourself to be fair to your time and energies – you are your company’s biggest equity holder (I hope!), and you’re putting your blood, sweat, time, and tears into building this thing, and if you’re distracted with minor things just because of a control complex, or because you’re chasing perfection, you’re being unjust to yourself. And to everyone who’s counting on you.