Founding a company with someone is a little like getting married. Jealousy, alone time, hardship, helping each other be better individuals; a lot of issues founders have are the same issues couples have. In fact, a lot of common advice for married couples is just as relevant for founders.
There’s something quite exciting about turning an idea into a real thing. That’s a role many UX designers fill working in early-stage startups. To accomplish this, one of the first things we as designers do is to conduct early user interviews and look at what other products in the market are already doing. This process helps identify required use cases that we need to design for.
Fundraising, hiring, and marketing are all challenges, especially to first time entrepreneurs. However, many others have gone through what you’re going through. Entrepreneurs are told to avoid making the same mistake. However, the reality is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Believe it or not, 12 months ago, I didn’t know how a board functioned. 8 months ago, I didn’t know the best way to structure a sales compensation structure. 3 months ago, I didn’t know that a simple dashboard could increase transparency in the entire company.
Startups are defined by their speed. Get together with a friend or two, build something, launch it. It’s amazing how fast you can get something out when you’re just starting. But as the company grows—and with it the size of the product and your customer base—you start slowing down. This really starts to freak founders out.
Course corrections are necessary in any startup, especially younger ones. I’m not talking about pivoting from one industry to another. I’m talking about the daily adjustments that add up to something meaningful in the long run. The only way to do this is to measure the process so you know what to optimize. Like many startups, we knew we had to monitor a lot of metrics to see where we could improve. However, knowing something is wrong doesn’t tell you how to fix it.
I spent most of my time relaxing this past holiday season. My days were filled with playing card games, watching the fireplace, and catching up on sleep. One of the new card games that I picked up was called cribbage, or crib for short (the rules for those of you who are interested). As I played more crib, I noticed a deeper game of hedging and calculating risks. I wondered what it took to win.