What advice do you give every first time founder? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Waseem Daher, Founder and CEO of Pilot.com, on Quora:
Building your own company is hard work—you’re often doing everything in the beginning and feel responsible for every decision. But as your startup grows, your work needs to evolve with it. I find myself often giving advice to founders about how to manage their time as they grow and I have two rules: don’t get distracted by fake work and learn to let go.
Early founders have a tendency to focus on things that feel like work. Things that seem like they move things forward but that aren’t actually the core mission of your business. One common trap is “playing the role of running a business” by doing the things that you think a “business person” should do, including going to networking events, giving talks, scrutinizing your competitors, being clever on Twitter, or spending hours researching which corporate card is the best. None of these things matter if you don’t have product-market fit, so don’t waste your time on them. You’re better off spending time talking to your customers and building something they actually want.
Focusing on what you’re good at, rather than what’s important is another trap of fake work. This is one that I catch myself falling into on a daily basis. It is tempting because it is real work—and it’s work you’re good at doing. Everyone enjoys doing things they’re good at. I have to constantly ask myself “Is this the most useful thing I could be doing? Is this a real priority for the business? Is this the actual best use of my time?” Your job as a founder is to build a product people want. Anything else is a distraction. It’s easy to forget that.
You also need to learn how to let go. In the early days of a company, when it’s just you and your cofounders, you have to do everything yourself or it won’t get done. This willingness to roll up your sleeves and tackle the most pressing problem will help determine your early success. At a certain point, however, this attribute that helped make you successful will start holding your company back. As you hire more people and grow, the machine begins to have momentum and that’s when you need to start letting go. If you don’t cede control to your team, the message they’ll hear is that you don’t trust them. This is incredibly disempowering. Additionally, if you try and do everything yourself, you won’t just disempower your employees—you’ll become a bottleneck.
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
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