In the early days of CCAW, I often found myself distracted. I call it founder squirrel syndrome. It’s common—maybe, I’d argue, the norm. I poured tons of my energy into things that wouldn’t get me closer to my next milestone. I distinctly remember spending a great deal of time improving our order fulfillment process—which wouldn’t keep the lights on. We needed to get to a certain revenue threshold to be at the cash flow break-even point. We needed paying customers. I should have focused on landing new customers, not making things pleasant for our few existing ones. Over time I learned, albeit in a painful way, and it all worked out.
Early founders have so much coming at them that it’s hard to focus on, or sometimes even identify, what matters most. The early startup days are chaotic. Everything is all over the place. Nothing goes as planned. Constantly calling audibles. Reacting to new information. In the midst of all this, tending to what matters most can be the difference between success and failure because resources are precious. There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the bank. Use them wisely. Less critical things can be dealt with later.
This is one of the hardest[ concepts for early founders to grasp and also one of the most impactful. If you’ve founded a company or are considering it, learn to set a few milestones and focus your efforts on activities that help you reach them. If you don’t know how to go about doing this, reach out. Ask for help. Learning this skill early can be a game changer!