Early founders are usually down in the weeds of their business. Resources being limited, everyone is doing everything. The founder is usually the only person who understands how all the pieces fit together. I like to think of the company as a galley and the founder as the person who makes sure everyone rows in sync. An incredibly valuable role in the early days, but not the founder’s only role. Founders are also responsible for making sure the ship is headed in the right direction. A critical role some founders lose sight of. The rowers can be doing an amazing job, so the ship’s moving at a nice clip, but it will run aground if it’s pointed the wrong way.
Evaluating the business from a high level when you’re constantly down in the weeds is easier said than done. I struggled with it for years. Something always needs to be fixed or improved. I found it was helpful to force myself to think about the big picture by scheduling time to talk about the business with outsiders. I used an advisor and a peer group. They didn’t want to hear about the latest customer service ticket—they wanted to know what I was doing now that would help me achieve my three-year goal. Some of those conversations were the catalysts for making hires that got me out of the weeds.
If you’re an early founder deep in the weeds, ask yourself: How am I going to make sure my ship doesn’t run aground?