I had one of those quick-catch-up coffee meetings in Grand Central the other day with my buddy who founded Canvas Eyewear. It turned into almost two hours of talking shop about the startup game, one of those discussions peppered with constant “ah yeah, I know what that’s like!!” head nods and shared laughter. As we’re both in early-stage companies, our back-and-forth naturally gravitated towards steering things in the right direction and, really, wtf that actually entails.
Most startup founders aren’t short on ideas. From product features to new developments to marketing tactics to partnerships to revenue models to branding to systems and processes; you could find yourself in the weeds before you finish your morning coffee. And there’s the conundrum that I believe has sunk plenty of startups. Here’s how Jack Dorsey sees the situation:
There are a thousand things that we could be doing, but there’s only one or two that are important.
The real problem in this situation is how easy it is to get lost in the every day whirlwind of “doing stuff”. I’ve seen it more than I’d care to dwell upon. Months and months of scurrying around, throwing shit at the wall to see if it sticks under the guise of lean experimentation, constant action without guard rails. User feedback pushes you in one direction, click maps send you in another, and competing opinions from team members are forever cycling.
While nearly every decision you make as an early-stage founder seems make-or-break, your ability to confidently maneuver through this hamster wheel situation can ultimately guide you to success or failure. If you can afford four minutes today, see why Jack Dorsey views himself, a CEO, as Chief Editor of his company: