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Getting Help as a Startup Founder: Why You Need A Partner

March 14, 2024

Being in the game for over a decade – without doubt – working with founders has been the best part of my gig. There’s just something beautiful about seeing the passion and drive within founders come to fruition – and knowing that you were a part of that journey.

Consultancy is often considered the dark side of services. I don’t want to be someone who dips in, offers some advice, and dips out – I want to stick around.

My way of working is directed more towards partnering with folks who genuinely need the help.
Get them to a place beyond that point.
And then move on to the next founder to work with.

A founder who is driven in solving a real market need with a solution that the market is ready for. – is the best place I want to be.

Breaking it down, it’s three things that attract me to ideal founders:

1 – Bootstrap mentality – solving problems with limited resources at hand. As an ex-engineer, working with constraints is my playground – building a startup is very much the same. Founders who work within constraints – often go beyond limits.

2 – Openness to ideas – when you are in the business of solving problems, you are open to solutions. I love discovering possible solutions to old and new problems alike. New ways to cure old diseases. Founders are usually open to ideas and I am open to making them a reality.

3 – High motivation (for the right reasons) – founders looking to build something they are proud of is rare. Most founders will run with an idea ‘just because’ and think it is enough to bring change. It isn’t. But every now and then you will meet truly exceptional folks. Folks who will give years to what they believe in – that’s the sweet spot.

Finding a founder that fits the bill stated above, how can one not want to partner with. After all, what I can do for you can be summed up pretty much by:

Red skull avengers meme image saying 'I guide others to a treasure I cannot possess.' - The joke being I help a founder succeed on their products.

All jokes aside though. A lot of the times you just need someone to fix your problems and help you gain focus.

Top problems most founders face in a startup:

Typically speaking the main problem most founders will have can be summed with one phrase.

‘I am doing everything, all, at once’ 

Wearing too many hats is fine, for a while. The more you do, the bigger chance you have of not succeeding with your mission.

Its common knowledge that founders who partner up with a technical Co-Founder have a higher chance of success. But if they are solo, I have often seen them having problems with:

Day to day operations of a startup

Managing your daily workload between 
thinking about what the product should be
handling the team working towards your goal
and then researching the market to make sure you are heading in the right direction – is just too much for most.

Most solo founders, as a result, quit their jobs, sell all their belongings, and try to maximize the ROI on effort. Thing is, you can only go so long managing operations and growing a product at the same time. You will run into a wall where your attention is divided into a dozen dimensions.

Part of managing operations is also making sure the budget is spent wisely. Most founders fall for marketing and positioning traps all the time. They go investing money into things they absolutely don’t need cough Slack subscription cough – yet.

And its not their fault. One can argue, pieces like this very article; exist all over the internet. Convincing founders to make their money worth with products and services they might need, might not need.

But hey, hire me if you need me, and I only work with you after a free consultation sessioncough click here cough. Us being a good fit is the most important factor.

Managing teams, lots of teams

One big factor in attaining the gold standard status of product market fit is having the right team. Pretty obvious for anyone. The issue however is getting that right team to work with you.

Most founders usually transition from a job themselves – and have no idea on how to build a team. Recruiting and sourcing people takes up more than half the time in the early days of the company. And what is left is taken over by onboarding the new team members and making sure they are following the vision set by you.

Not to mention the pains of offboarding employees. Making sure retention is good. And that the hiring budget is being wisely spent.

Remote work has been a cost saving blessing for thousands of startups. But it does have its own challenges. Communication, time zone alignment, culture fit, and overall cohesion in the company to name a few. You need someone who can guide you to spend money where it matters and save where it doesn’t matter much.

Sticking to the Vision

I see founders often make a critical mistake of latching on to a “revolutionary feature”. A feature that is going to make their product stand out from the market. A feature that will definitely not be copied by anyone else. Clubhouse anyone? Snap stories? list goes on

As a founder you should stick to a grander vision of solving problems with holistic solutions, not just mere features.

I get it – market differentiation is a challenging problem. You want to have something unique about your startup. So here’s my advise – differentiate based on the ethos – not based on what feature your product has.

Example, if I am helping someone build an employee focused CRM that will enable better engagement and performance from the people using the CRM.

Instead of focusing on saying our CRM has XYZ feature, I would advise the founder to say:

The CRMs in the market solve the symptoms, we want to solve the disease.

This kind of broader vision towards your mission can help you pivot anytime – not be tied down to one fad feature…AI anyone?

As a founder, you need to be focused on the long term. Getting distracted away from what matters most is a really good way to dig a grave. Just having an idea is not enough, you need someone to help you validate, research, and offer comparisons.

The word ‘Roadmap’ is thrown around the product world all the time, funnily enough – many founders don’t have one. All they have is an idea, a pitch, and drive – which can be a recipe for disaster.

So you say – Ok Saqib, I am a founder, and I think these problems define my situation. Then what? Well then maybe you should consider the following.

Why should you hire me as a founder?

I am open about being a generalist with a knack for select industries. 
Am I going to be the expert at everything you need? No
But am I going to be the biggest ROI for the things you DEFINITELY need? Very much so

As stated above, most of the issues can be solved by having the right person at your right hand. Someone like me who works with a select few clients on long term engagements.

You succeeding with your startup pays my bills as much as it pays yours. The reason why I take so few clients is because I know who are bound to succeed, and who are not.

Fun fact, most clients I fired, quit their startups soon after. Call it intuition, call it karma – I call it good product sense.

or as my wife and friends would say ‘kaali zabaan’

I am constantly trying to improve my offering and services. I want to bring the most value to you as a tech consultant and a business partner. But to name a few things, here is how I will help you with:

Getting value from the read so far? I would appreciate if you can subscribe. My goal is to write about Products and Services for Founders and Agency Owners. A sub ensures the quality of the content is sufficiently motivated (wink wink).

Fulfilling Your Founder Duties

As a startup founder your key responsibilities should include:
Creating the vision and mission for your idea
Researching the market for differentiation opportunities
Developing a base business model
Working closely on the product roadmap
And if you are going the fundraising round, working on pitches and connecting with parties is basically your new day job.

Hiring me ensures that you stick to the path that is the most optimal for you as a founder. I will help you delegate these familiar sounding activities:

Day to day administration of the team and the business ops
Making sure the dev and design plan is being executed
How to find solutions to technical challenges with a build
Making sure the budgets are being burnt appropriately
And lastly – helping you give a second opinion on everything from strategy to execution for your product needs.

Just having a sturdy shoulder to rely on can open up a lot of time, and not to mention, a lot of mental capacity for you to focus on what matters as your duty being a founder.

Getting the Right Resources for Your Startup

Be it team, tools, or hacks – you need someone who has experience dealing with building from scratch to help you. Here’s a common analogy I make to founders

Just because you love cars, and drive a car daily, and know what goes in a car – DOES NOT MEAN you can go and build one.

When it comes to building software (arguably easier than building a car) – the same logic still applies. A lot of founder have the right heart and want to build the right thing – but their approach is usually very wrong.

I’ve seen founders
Waste money on expensive outsource teams
Waste money on tools they never need
Waste money on consultants to work on things that don’t matter – yet

And hey, I myself am here pitching my services – but see the difference? I am being transparent, a thing that is taken for granted nowadays.

Saving Your Time as a Founder

And lastly, the biggest perk of working with someone like me – I am up for anything.

Yes, I have my core competencies, but being a business partner means going the extra mile. I have a network of people, years of knowledge, and experience with dozens of tools and technologies. You have a problem? I have a solution, and if not, I know how to find one.

Partnering with a person who’s goal is to be the missing piece of the puzzle means you will end up saving a lot of time with things you never knew could be done in days – not months.

Consultancy and partnering contracts usually get a bad rep because
– You may think I don’t have skin in the game
– I might be double dipping you for multiple clients
– I may not understand your problem space as well as you
– I perhaps am too expensive for you at this stage

Having these concerns are perfectly reasonable, but there is a way to clear them –  a 30 minutes call to save you hours of work.

As your business matures, you need someone to come in and offer diverse help

  • You need someone who knows enough to “execute faster”
  • You need someone who “gets the job done”
  • You need someone who adapts to “how you work”

I am your best bet for quicker results.
Schedule a call today!

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Posted in Business
1 Comment
  • […] Mapping out the users for your eventual product is much like forecasting the price of Tesla stock. Will shoot up? dive down? Your guess is as good as mine. But when it comes to mapping out the user experience – I am your guy. […]

    9:50 am March 22, 2024

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