Are You In Control of Your Destiny, or Not?

People have different personalities.  Some feel like they need control.  Psychologists call them, “controllers”.  Regular people might call them “control freaks”.   Other people aren’t as concerned with control.

There is no right or wrong personality.  Steve Jobs was a control freak.  He did okay.

Lots of startup founders want to try and control all the aspects of their business.  They think they can.  The reality is, they can’t.  You can’t control sales cycle for example.  You can try and make it go faster.  But, it’s mostly dependent on the customer and their process.

When I was trading, lots of my fellow traders felt like they had control.  They saw themselves as puppet masters.  The brutal reality is the market had all the control.  As soon as you made a trade, the market took over.  The only thing you had control over was the process on entering the trade, and the decision making process of exit.  Everything else was subject to events beyond your control.

Startups are like that.  Founders can control what happens inside their company but they can’t control what happens outside their company.  What do founders who like to control things do so they don’t panic?  Put a process in place that you can rely on. As you are finding product/market fit, keep adjusting the process slightly until you find the sweet spot.  Then, go.  Go hard.

One thing that seed investors came to a stark realization on was that they wanted at least one tech person in the company at seed.  Maybe that person was part of the founding team, maybe not.  But, that person had to be there.  Most people think it’s because all companies need tech to scale-which is true.  But, I think it’s more than that.

Engineers think differently about problems than other people.  They deconstruct them.  They try and put process in place to help them solve and deal with problems.  Having a process person on the founding team can be a big asset and help you get farther more quickly.

The key is not to have brittle processes.  At early stages, communication lines need to be clear, open, and non-confrontational so that you can adapt.