How Unsuccessful Founders Spend Their Time

The last month has really sucked.

We soft launched Attendly into a public beta at the start of April, and two weeks in we had some momentum. We had bounce in our step and a twinkle in our eye. I for one was girding my loins in preparation for taking over the world.

Gird your loins

Three weeks after that, the momentum has stopped and reality has descended. I haven’t hustled to get a sale once, and engineering has made limited inroads on the product. It feels like a different company, and I don’t like it.

This is how to be unsuccessful

Something changed in the last few weeks. All the little tasks that are required to keep a business ticking along, took over our schedule and demanded our undivided attention.

Whether it’s the siren call of the email inbox, or the customer who set their own pants on fire and is now demanding you drop everything to douse the flames…it all adds up to a feeling of overwhelming stagnation.

The graph below shows the working week of an unsuccessful founder, and it’s a perfect reflection of our last months effort.

founder_pie_chart_resized

It’s easy to spend an entire week doing phone and email support, administration, emails, debt collecting, reports and other such nonsense. String three or four of those weeks together, and suddenly you’ve lost an entire month.

You cannot afford to waste even a single day in a startup

Getting sucked into meaningless trivia instead of company changing projects is REALLY common. It’s happened to everyone who has ever run a business for more than a few days *cough* Startup Weekend *cough*, and it will continue to happen for the entire life of your company.

You need to be aware of it, and rage against it like there’s no tomorrow. Because for many of us in startup land, there is no tomorrow.

Learn to say no.

Prioritise.

Work only on the one or two things that matter.

If you want to know whether something is worth doing, ask yourself:

“Will doing this change the trajectory that my business is currently on?”

If the answer is no, stop. Just stop.

We are making changes to how we prioritise work so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes in June. That includes hiring a founders apprentice, and having daily standups around the one or two things that we want to achieve.

It shouldn’t be long before I start girding my loins again…