Job Scope in Early Stage Companies

In any startup company, EACH employee MUST wear many hats. In a large company, job specialization is the rule. However, job specialization does not make for a successful startup, as it requires too many people and both the costs and risks would greatly increase with the added levels of people and communication.

It is a well-known fact that there are diminishing returns with each layer and additional employees on any project. This is even more pronounced in knowledge-intensive areas and professional services like software engineering and other knowledge and design-intensive areas.  (Read The Mythical Man-Month). In early-stage and smaller companies, each employee must provide a range of value-added responsibilities that might encompass several jobs at a large company.

Therefore, employee selection in early-stage companies is not only more critical because there are so few people, but also more fraught with danger because each person's "scope", ability and attitudes must be...

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Why Startup Need 80% Solutions

You can't be all things to all people

Ever notice how that last 10% of almost any job takes half the time or more? This is a simple fact of life in most tasks because the more detail you try to finish the further you get up that exponential cost/time curve to perfection. Even painting your house perfectly is an unachievable and ridiculously expensive goal. In fact, an excellent job will cost twice as much as a very good job, and that will cost twice as much as a "good" job, which will cost twice as much as an OK job. That means an excellent job can cost about sixteen times more (2 X 2 X 2 X 2 =16) than a good job! Think about that next time you get a fixed price quote! So you need to decide where you want to be on that quality curve, which is also exponential. How close will you want to look at that paint job to feel good about it? How much will customers want to pay? This fact of life applies to most products and services in some way.

Unlike large companies, where thousands of...

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Services For Startup and Early-Stage Companies

Early-stage companies are the most fragile, have the least resources and the biggest challenges ahead of them.  Developing a new business is one of the biggest challenges in life and generally requires experience in at least five key disciplines (product/service development, finance, sales, marketing, and operations) to do well.   For a founder or entrepreneur and their team to be successful, they must have not only industry domain experience but all these skills available to design the business at both the strategic and tactical levels (a vision).  Taking all these disciplines into account and then allocating resources appropriately for the specific situation among these areas requires much experience and entails many trade-offs and judgment calls.  The only experience can be our guide here.  Identifying and managing risks is also something only experience and knowledge can conquer. For very early-stage businesses, hiring a full-time,...

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How Do You Run A Start-Up Differently Than Other Companies?

A Perfect Metaphor For A Startup

I use many airplane and military metaphors, not because I was ever in the military, though I am a pilot, but because there are so many special-purpose planes that can be used to show an exact point or purpose just like a market niche. One of the best models I have seen on how to run a start-up was the development of the SR-71 spy plane by Lockheed’s skunkworks. The SR-71 spy plane was so far ahead of its time, that 30 years after its initial design and development, it was still the fastest plane on the planet. The development of the plane is a great metaphor for a startup company, and the management methods used should be examined by every startup executive as an example of product design and development on minimum resources that yield maximum results. The plane itself is also a great metaphor for a startup company, as you will see below.

The Skunkworks group’s methods and results are a classic example of what can be done...

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What are some tips for starting a new company to prepare?

A tough question that can only be answered well by looking at the big picture. “Tips” implies simple little things, but none of these are tips really. They “must do” things if you want to have good chances of success.
Prepare for years in advance, building your skills in management, domain expertise and marketing/sales.
The CEO & Entrepreneur Boot Camp - CEO Bootcamp US
Get a mentor who has experience as an entrepreneur growing a company successfully
Read at least 2 to 3 books per month
Bootstrap taking your time to build out your plan doing market research, competitive intelligence and talking to prospects and iterating your business model. Be sure it is 100% differentiated and unique, and you can create some sustainable competitive advantage. Without both of these, raising capital will be near impossible.
Set up financially to need no income for 6 to 12 months minimum after you quit your job. Moonlight until you are very clear on the plan and vision, and get...

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How Do You Compete with a Company Doing the Same Thing as You?

The short answer is you never should. You should slightly adjust your business model or target market to be differentiated. Read this article to learn how. 

A startup should never really have a direct competitor. Its target market, where it can do something that others cannot, must be unique at the start to establish a beachhead in a niche. You need to target another niche market (often an intersection and application and industry sector) where you have a Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA).

Sometimes geography can be this difference if a service is delivered locally, or you are going after a country where a new service does not yet exist (i.e. Starbucks). However, this is less powerful than proprietary product and service capabilities that others do not have long-term. You could be attacked locally at any time, even by ex-employees you trained who leave. It is also possible and better to layer in other SCAs over time. First to market can give you advantages like...

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Do good employees make good managers?

Sure, but only a certain percentage. Usually 5% to 15%. These are the ones willing to work hard, develop themselves, learn more rapidly and develop EQ and people skills. Google The Peter Principle to understand better.

Management is an art, not a skill. An art requires vast experience, and literally rewires your brain neuroplasticity over the years. See Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. You cannot learn it in school. Only practice it for many years to hone your talents there.

The fact is, most people are lazy and do not want to continue to develop, think for themselves and excel. Only that do should be allowed in management. This is called “Self-Actualized”.

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Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship...

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How do I make sure that Google doesn't copy our startup idea?

This is sort of like asking, “How do I create a masterpiece of art?”. The answer is so complex it involves years, maybe decades for most, of experience in strategy, product development, intellectual property, operational excellence and more.

Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantage, which is the only thing that drives higher exit values, is art. And involves many disciplines. I created a web page titled The Entrepreneur's Journey which lays out the 25+ skills, and arts really, that are required to build a valuable company that can grow rapidly and provide a strong exit for investors here: The Entrepreneur's Journey

If you ask this question, you are far from ready and need to dedicate years more to study and learning. I suggest you check out The CEO & Entrepreneur Boot Camp here: Home Page, begin reading a few books a month and plan to develop strategies and management skills first.

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Bob Norton...

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What are the reasons why start-ups fail within first five years?

I wrote a free eBook answering this exact question in 2020: The Top Reasons Start Up Fail and How to Avoid Them. You can get that here

Starting a new company is a big risk that requires many skills.  Being a Founder of a startup is likely one of the most complex jobs there is today. People greatly underestimate what it takes to be successful.  It takes at least 10 and more likely 15+ years to accumulate the experience needed for a high chance of success.

Here is a list of the skills we teach at The CEO & Entrepreneur Boot Camp:

1. Recruiting - Easy to do, hard to do well as quality of the team will be the #1 reason for success or failure. How do you know the right people? 

2. Management - An art that only comes from experience.  This will set the tone of your culture and its productivity and sustainability. 

3. Marketing & Branding - Another art few understand well. Get professionals involved early, as brand and...

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What are the Few Things Every Startup Needs?

Yikes. You are getting some bad answers here. In fact, some don’t even seem to know what a startup is really. Below is a link to a free video series I authored called The Entrepreneur's Journey, and it maps out almost everything a startup needs, mostly the stuff they don’t know they need.

However, let’s start with that definition of the word startup. A startup is not copying someone else's business model, freelancing or opening a dry cleaner. It is doing something new and different. Combining resources uniquely to create value for customers. In fact, if you are not doing something new and different (differentiated) you will never, ever attract either capital or quality senior people. This is called “Innovation”. And without it you have no startup. If you did not know that you are not ready to found a startup company yet and should stick to some simple service business while you learn the list of skills below.

A startup has a UNIQUE business model,...

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