Your Startup Needs Side and Rear-view Mirrors
Falling in love with ideas in a startup is easy. I’ve attended countless meetings where ideas are tossed around based on unproven market and technology assumptions. Excitement escalates and, in the heat of the moment, the team grasps one of the ideas and shifts direction. Sometimes this is conscious and sometimes this is unconscious. Hardly makes a difference, as the organization is already changing course.
But are they changing because of correct or realistic assumptions? Startups are vehicles, and as such they must consider terrain, traffic, fuel, etc. This, above all else, is why startups cannot simply look forward. They also require mirrors for looking back and to the side.
One of my investors wisely suggested we recruit advisors for our key business areas: Sales, Marketing, and Technology. Each serves as a reflection of our organization, offering insight into each area’s progress. This method is invaluable, and plays a critical role in saving my startups precious time, resources, and money. We look for advisors with the following attributes:
- Excited about our vision
- Experts in the desired field (e.g., Sales, Marketing, Technology)
- Experts in our industry marketplace
- Willingness to join us on our Company Team Meetings every other week
These advisors, our side and rear-view mirrors, are a great resource for our teams. They serve to keep us both inspired and grounded, as well are great for industry introductions as we mature.
Mirrors Only Matter if You Use Them
Advisors are only one component to creating mirrors. The startup must also be willing to use them. Our advisors, for instance, attend our bi-monthly department meetings to offer perspective. Their participation leads to important feedback on each team’s goals and immediate direction.
Groupthink is inevitable in a startup. The more time a team spends together, the more likely they take assumptions for granted. Installing the right mirrors, and using them in a structured way, helps mitigate any groupthink or wasted resources.
So consider your side and rear-view mirrors whenever launching a startup. Implemented correctly, they help keep you focused and aware.