The best auto-racers in the world are masters of timing.
They make quick, race-changing decisions, at incredibly high speeds and know precisely the right moment to accelerate and overtake their competitors.
They also know that winning a race isn't always about speed; it's about being strategic in controlling your speed and knowing when to draft or make a pit stop. It's finding the between patience and knowing when to be impatient.
Building a fast-moving startup is a lot like auto-racing.
To get to the checkered flag you constantly walk the razors edge in wanting to push forward and knowing when to hold back.
Knowing the difference can be the reason your startup either wins the race or fails to finish.
To help anyone entering the "startup race", here are three tips for when patience pays off and when you should take immediate action to drive your business forward.
When You Need To Be Patient
At my company, Porch.com, we spend a lot of time interviewing candidates for senior positions that are vital towards the growth of our business. Many of the candidates we interview have impressive track records and experience to match, but for certain roles it is crucial that we find the right people to ensure their contributions are a fit for the teams they will run, our culture, and our overall strategic needs.
No matter how great your product is, your company is only as good as the people. You will get more value from waiting to hire the right person than you will just hiring out of simple necessity. Always be patient when bringing on new members to your team.
Raising money is a unique moment for a young company. You have tremendous opportunity to not only bring in capital, but investors with experience and the connections to help accelerate your startup.
Unless you are in dire need of funding, be patient with who you let invest in your company. There is a well-developed and growing network of angel investors and venture capitalists out there, with enough time you should be able to find a match that fits your needs. Make sure that your visions are aligned and that the investor or firm wont be a distraction to your company and its goals.
Startups thrive on momentum to build great products, and PR and press helps to boost that momentum. It's helpful to have coverage on a public launch but if you can't sustain the public's prolonged attention, you're missing out on huge opportunities. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Never underestimate the power of good PR. Just like having a detailed roadmap for the development of your company, have a detailed plan for announcements you want to make throughout the year. This includes announcing your launch, funding, and product updates ongoing. Be patient and spread out major announcements for your company so you are telling the right story at the right time.
When You Need To Be Impatient
Unhappy employees are toxic to a growing startup. They exude negativity and spread their discontent to others. With so much risk on line for young companies, you really can't afford to keep people onboard that aren't all-in.
Whether an employee is in an ill-fitting roles or just a bad egg, you can't get emotional or delay in making necessary changes. Be quick to remove disgruntled employees from your team--the separation will be better for both the employee and your company in the long run.
If you are a young company, many of your first users or customers are some of the most important. They are the influencers, the early adopters, and their level of satisfaction will either make or break your access to more customers down the road. You should always be patient with customers, but never delay in serving them.
If a customer is unhappy, find out why and fix the problem. If customer wants to buy, lower the barrier and remove as much friction as possible to let them do so. Your customers should always be a top priority no matter what.
Launching Products for Feedback
Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said it best when he warned, "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." In a startup, you can't truly tell if you are creating something useful until you get it in the hands of your customers. Sometimes getting that product to your customers comes at the expense of shipping something that's less than perfect.
Don't delay in launching MVP's or products for honest customer feedback early on. Your customers will drive the direction of how you develop your product. Don't waste time building something you think they want. Instead, use their feedback to build a product that they need and can't live without.