4 kinds of people who should leave start-ups alone 1


While I know that our marketing staff shudders every time I give a public speech or write a blog post, I just can’t help feeling the world could be a tiny bit better off with more honesty and less “we’re in a hockey stick pattern and by next year we’ll be making ONE TRILLION DOLLARS!!!”

The truth is that we have good people working very hard and we are making our games better all of the time, but, in the immortal words of Shel Silverstein,

“And some kind of help is the kind of help,

That helping’s all about.

And some kind of help is the kind of help

That we all could do without.”

Here are four kinds of people who should just leave start-ups alone, starting with this one.

  1. The consultant who has zero relevant experience who wants to charge us for planning – strategic planning, business planning, market planning. We have a plan already and part of it is we plan on not paying money to people who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.
  2. The contractor who needs to get paid within 47 seconds of doing the work. Many start-ups have a problem with cash flow and all start-ups have a problem with more work than there is time available. I have had people submit invoices before they did the work, email an invoice and then call me the same hour and ask when they would be getting a check, ask to get paid in cash, ask to get paid “off the record”. Sure, just let me drop everything I’m doing, call our accountant and ask her to drop everything she’s doing to put your bill on top of the pile, and forget that pesky IRS thing. You wouldn’t suggest that to AT&T or Microsoft because you know they are huge bureaucracies that insist on niceties like a payroll schedule and W-2 forms. Show me the same courtesy.
  3. The former big business/ big university employee who is gracing us with their presence. Don’t get me wrong, I have hired some great people who came from large institutions. I’ve also observed people who considered a start-up a step down. Certainly, the benefits and pay are a step below many more traditional jobs, so Mr./Ms. Big decides to spend half as much effort on each task, thereby maintaining the same hourly rate of pay.
  4. The people who assume small businesses are small because they are run by morons. These are the same people who want to have lunch with me so they can give me advice like, “You should charge money for your products,” and “You need to make sure your income is more than your expenses or you won’t show a profit.”

What start-ups need most are time and money. If you are wasting one or the other, don’t go away mad, just go away.

 


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