Recently, I moved. My boxes were carefully labeled, my days were carefully scheduled, and everything came unglued within half an hour. The movers didn’t speak English, none of my labeling meant anything to them, and there were lots of mini-emergencies and things that had to happen “right now.” So it got me to thinking about how moving is like working for a startup–chaotic and fast-paced.
The Tools Are Woefully Inadequate
For instance, making coffee that first day with nothing but a glass, a filter, and a knife. At a startup, you might have only a partial description of the app you need to build, and the tools you need to use are pre-pre-pre beta, but that’s all you’ve got, so you “get ‘er done.” Although some of the coffee grounds might slop over into the glass, you have to use the tools you have.
You’re Short on Time
Everything in a move has to happen by a certain date and time. At a startup, you have to get your product to beta, your social media launched, and everything needs to happen whether you’re ready or not. So you make do and focus on the most critical items. Speed is of the essence.
Creativity is Essential
Although I want to punch people who say “think outside the box,” having a creative mindset is a requirement, both in moving and in working for a startup. If you don’t have the right size box when you’re moving, you have to make one. The same thinking applies at a startup. There’s lots of scurrying around at the last minute, eating a sandwich with one hand, while writing on a white board with the other, and people pointing at their watches saying to hurry up!
Getting it Done Versus Making it Perfect
When the truck pulls out of the driveway, all your stuff better be on it! And when your new website launches, you’d better have most of what you need there. And if you wait until it’s perfect, it’ll never happen!
Delegate and Let it Go
When you give your life over to movers, you have to let go of control for a few hours or days. The same is true when you delegate what you can’t do yourself. Other people might only do 80% of what you’d do yourself. You have to be comfortable with chaos. Forbes has an excellent article on delegation, by the way.
Have You or Your Startup Moved Lately?
What helped you get through it with the least amount of stress possible? And by the way, have you seen my tea kettle?