Getting People in the Boat

W3 Studio > Education > Getting People in the Boat

As a startup founder, one of your most important jobs is going to be getting other people into the boat with you. To make your idea go, you are going to need a bunch of people to pick up an oar and help you row. There is a ton of inertia to overcome in the early days, just one oar is not going to get your startup boat moving. And your boat is going to be sailing in some rough waters once it starts moving, establishing a tailwind is going to take serious time and effort.

What do I mean by this? You might need to work in the beginning to find a co-founder or at least some part-time workers. You probably won’t have the cash to actually pay these early employees. You are going to need to convince them that your idea is a great one and that the opportunity is so amazing that they will work for free, or at least a reduced salary versus their alternatives. These will likely be the first people in the boat with you.

Next you will likely want to go out and find a few key advisors to add to the boat. These might be people with deep industry expertise or contacts. And guess what? You are not going to be able to pay them either, so you’ll also need to convince them that your startup is worth their time. They will need to believe in your passion and your skills. They are going to judge your early success at building a team. They are going to look at the others in the boat and decide if they want to be in with them or not.

Did you think those first two types of sailors were hard to find and get into the boat? Well the next categories are even harder. You’ll need to convince customers to work with your small little boat instead of the big ocean cruiser competitors, and you will also need to convince investors to give you their cash. You should think of these sales jobs in much the same way. People will want to see your excitement for the problem you are solving and the solution you are implementing. They will also be looking real hard at the other people in the boat with you to evaluate your ability to execute, so your fellow sailors better be great too.

A big part of being a startup founder is convincing other people that you are someone they should trust as the captain. You will be doing this the entire time you are running your startup, right up until the time you monetize and often after. Does this part of the job excite you or terrify you? If you’re not excited, then you might need to re-evaluate your decision to be a startup founder.