16 Feb 2016, 10:35 — 4 min read
The lean mean startup machine founder is prepped and pruned to learn on the go. Youth over experience, speed over deliberation and jack of all trades over king of one are swaps that gets a nod in the startup game.
If the startup business was a landscape, it’s king would be the cheetah. Quick to move, quiet to perceive and lethal. But within the diversity of the animal kingdom lives a great message - no form of life is perfect. So while the kingdom may belong to a new kind of cat, the old lion has lessons that we wish were transferable.
Here are perils in the game for the young founder:
1. Hiring Poorly
Stuck with the need to hire urgently and the lack of experience to predict employee fallouts, the young entrepreneur may not hire correctly. Startups need people who leap about catching every flying hat in the horizon with an eye on the long term. Additionally, some functions may require specialists. Like accounting and finance. Or promotions.
Employees with low motivation, high burn rate and an inability to be self-motivated is a tiring burden on a growing startup. A leader who has spent time working with a variety of people will know what to watch out for while hiring.
2. The Reluctance to Say NO
The startup founder is never short of the urgency to improve. Everyone has an opinion. And every opinion that is not tested seems to be a golden egg under a chicken. But trying too many things is exhausting. Especially if you have 1 thing that works for you. Experience comes in handy to stay in tune with the important over the urgent. And most importantly, the ability to deliver a firm but polite no when it is required. Indeed, it is almost uncool to say no in startups that seem to be a magic pond of trials. But there is a time for that, and this understanding comes with experience.
3. Building Enduring Relations
If time is money, the startup CEO is always broke. With the juggling of several job roles, the young entrepreneur may feel tempted to blow off some well-meaning meetings in the eye of the storm. Which is completely understandable. But a more seasoned CEO would understand the need to make time for industry peers, mentors and current investors to keep the engagement alive and everyone connected in the story of the startup. And have fun in general.
4. Not Working with the Right Partner
A partner to the founder is like the second set of legs to a horse. A lot has been said about likability being a big factor in a partner. As is the ability commands respect, commitment to the same goals and a supportive nature. But the factor that escapes the eye is the person’s weaknesses.
A professional and personal weakness of a partner that the founder cannot manage with their personal resources of patience and empathy is the biggest threat in startup success. A founder with the advantage of age will probably know himself better and therefore understand what she or he needs in their business partner, thereby decreasing the margin of error.
In a lot of contexts, being young is confused as a virtue. The well-rounded entrepreneur who has had the time to derive learnings and experiences from their experiences is likely to steer a more stable ship and age has nothing to do with that.
Posted byAnjan Purandare
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