“The entrepreneur is the default person to get everything done.”
This is the Entrepreneur’s dilemma.
Like in most dilemmas, there is a constant battle between limited resources and difficult decisions. The entrepreneur can opt to do everything him/herself (highly not recommended) or direct time, money, energy away from existing tasks towards hiring the right people to help bring dreams into existence.
Option 1: Conserve cash and do everything yourself until you get enough money hire a team. After all, you have the passion, dedication, and vision for the idea.
The fact is that every human being only gets 24 hours each day. Research continues to prove that we need to dedicate at least 6-8 hours each day to sleep in order to be fully coherent and focused. Carve another 2 more hours for eating, drinking and basic hygiene, and you are left with 14 hours that don’t cover any commuting, errands, or time with friends/family. Many experts also agree that we also need to reserve an additional 24 hour period of non-work activity in order to be our most productive. This equates to less than 72 hours per week for work. It is not enough to do everything yourself.
The day before starting my first business; my ego came to realization that, ‘I can do better than these idiots!’ I received a punishing blow when I quickly realized that I had become a bigger idiot for thinking that I could accomplish what a crew of 10 others could hardly do.
Sure I had some technological efficiencies on my side; but I seriously lacked the diversity of talent and experience to complete all aspects of the business. As a result, I burned through both my saved money and sanity very quickly.
The lesson I learned was that I spent the majority of my time doing tasks that I was ill prepared, equipped, or skilled to do – making them take 5-10 times longer than it would take a low-level expert. This prevented me from doing the things in which I excelled on a regular basis.
Option 2: Invest in a team of talented and passionate people. Figure out what each can contribute to bring a shared idea into reality.
Entrepreneurial journeys are much more about endurance than speed. You need other people to help you fill in the gaps, complete difficult tasks, and connect with audiences.
Since most businesses are started with the founders’ savings (or leveraged on their credit); they tend to get protective of the funds. Covering ‘their’ paychecks with ‘your’ hard-earned money is a difficult mindset to overcome.
But the fact of the matter is that once a core team is formed (with their talents, passions, skills, and financial concerns being appropriately tied to the business); they will help you move mountains and will invest surprisingly large amounts of their personal energy towards the shared purpose. While it initially seems like a more expensive option; reserve judgment until years down the road when you can factor in the distance traveled, and obstacles overcome by this team. Often you will see that the first ones to join your team are willing to trade lower immediate financial needs for meeting and appreciating their personal contributions.
Here is where you have statistics on your side as most employees are far from fully engaged at their current job. Besides, you never know how or to whom they are connected to worthwhile funding sources that would be interested in participating.
In talking with some investors; I learned many of them are likely to invest in a cohesive core team with a few rough ideas than a single founder with a somewhat refined idea. This seems to support the role of the entrepreneur is less like a solo violinist and more like the conductor of the orchestra. Sure the conductor must be competent on multiple instruments, but the real role is not about playing, but in building and leading the orchestra through individual performances in such a way that they collectively deliver one single performance that moves audiences to applause.
Building a business needs a handful of different perspectives: Long-term planning, understanding market needs, translating market needs into product opportunities, building outside relationships, operational capital, and connecting with internal people.
Out of the nearly 7 Billion human beings currently on our planet (not to mention those already left and those not yet arrived), not a single one is able to do everything him/herself. If it takes a village to raise a child; it definitely takes teams of people o build a business.
The business grows when entrepreneurs build others without expectations of getting immediate returns from them. Start with a team. Engage and appreciate their contributions. Grow towards one single direction.