At the end of the day, if you don’t own the preferred shares in your startup, you don’t have ultimate control of a company. You do still have plenty of say — you are the founding CEO after all — but even if you’re careful about how much equity you sell, you quickly answer to someone else when it comes to selling, raising more capital and taking on debt.
For your first ten employees as a founder, you not only have to be very clear on the why and the what, but you have to be comfortable occasionally venturing into the how too. You have the context of the entire company all in your head, but no one else can read your mind. So, for a bit, overcommunicate.
There is a difference between saying, “how can I help you?” and, “help me help you.” There’s also a difference between saying, “I need X, Y and Z to be a better partner,” and, “we’re screwed and need your help.”
Only once you’ve sold your product enough times, one at a time, can you start creating efficiencies. Sales is a process. And just like all processes, it makes a set of tasks more efficient. But you need successful tasks first. Otherwise, you just have super-efficient shitty tasks.
The first step is to take a look at your corporate values, and determine if the employee shares them. This assumes of course, that you have corporate values. And honor them. Companies have values in order to give employees a north star when faced with complex decisions.
As a first-time founder, having Eric tell me that I wasn’t fucking anything up, and that this was a normal part of the process, was invaluable to me. By reframing it from “this last 20 percent is taking too long,” to “I was really only 20 percent of the way done,” I was able to take a step back, realize I was at a different point than I thought I was, and move forward from there.