Welcome to my blog. I wanted to take the time and share some of my experiences with those that may benefit as you make your way to growing your companies, and dreams. Know that you are not alone.
I started my first company 30 years ago and have continued to launch and co-found many other companies over the years, leading to some very successful exits. Most of my ventures were bootstrapped and now when looking back, I have fond memories on the early 12 months of each startup. However, truth be told, the early days of any startup can only be described as a highly challenging and somewhat brutal period, a fact that most entrepreneurs will acknowledge in their own moments of weakness.
The role of a CEO is often lonely so while navigating the choppy waters of a startup journey, I personally relied on advice from mentors and the school of Hard Knox based on trial and error. I would also take a deep dive into “How to” books to increase my know-how in specific areas of interest. Along the way, I have gathered a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to the operations of a company and have come to realize that many entrepreneurs and employees whom I have mentored find this know-how to be of value.
I have found that while the business world follows some repeatable scientific principles, at times there is no clear way to describe a repeatable path forward. Sometimes, the unique situations that arise in a business require specific and well thought out solutions. It is at these moments that certain principles, which I like to refer to as “Business Guidelines” or “BizGuides”, come in handy. This accumulation of borrowed “BizGuides” has served me well and guided me over the years.
It is important to acknowledge that I do not claim any originality to any of the ideas that I will present in my blogs. In cases where I know a source, I will clearly identify the person and context. Otherwise, I assume the content to be a part of the “Startup Community Folklore” that has been developed by Giants over the decades (using the metaphor attributed to Sir Isaac Newton who stated that his discoveries were somewhat enabled because “He stood on the shoulders of Giants”).
The BizGuides I will outline in my blogs will cover both general purpose topics regarding management principles as well as principles about specific functional areas in a company. My hope is that entrepreneurs and members of the business community will find these ideas worthy of consideration when building and managing their new ventures.
So I start with my BizGuide, which I have yet to put in any concrete order…
BizGuide # 7 How to Eat an Elephant
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time”; General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. US Army.
During the initial few years in the life of a startup, when resources are limited, facing a large task is a major challenge. The most common reaction that I have observed when teams encounter situations where the task is substantial is an initial phase of paralysis by not knowing how to proceed followed by a second phase of procrastination or delaying tackling the problem. These delays have a negative impact on the reaction time of the company and how it is perceived by the market.
The concept of eating the elephant one bite at a time centers around the idea that when facing a big activity, that may even seem insurmountable, it is important to break it down to manageable smaller tasks and address them on priority basis, one task at a time. Breaking the large task into smaller chunks provides a number of added benefits as the subtasks can be distributed among members of the team. This in turn could facilitate adding an external resource with the required talent, as well as it may lead to increased productivity as the team witnesses progress and success.
Check out a cool 2 minute video describing this rule can be found on YouTube under the title: How to eat an elephant –Goal setting one bite at a time by that’s easy learning by Jim Muir.
This is one of many guidelines I plan to share with you in my blog series. Stay tuned for more of the guiding principles and anecdotes that have directed me through my career of growing startups through to successful ventures.
Edited by Jamie Keeley.