Snapshots of a Startup: Hedging Your Bets

Mistakes…immediately after the fact, they suck…but in hindsight…they’re some of the best teachers of all time.  To be brutally honest, this post is going to be in direct reference to a mistake that I’ve made in the management of my startup venture.  So without further adieu…lets just cut to the chase.

Several months back, our team and project was thriving, yet there remained one critical piece to the puzzle that needed to be filled.  Actually, there was one more person that we needed to find to work with on the project.  My thinking was to do a ton of research, talk to a ton of people and then see who I would come across.  Upon doing so, I spent time talking to several different individuals and worked hard on filtering down the list to a handful of candidates.  And then I made a major blunder…

I decided to really narrow down all of the potential people to see who would be “the best fit” for the project, and then from there, go after that individual.  Well, one guy, in particular, stood out above the rest.  So we had several phone calls, talked about the postition, talked about expectations, even flew out to meet up with one another, we did all of our *due diligence*…from there, we set up a sort of audition for the gig. 

Fast forward to about four weeks later, things ended up not working out for both parties (nothing bad, just not the right fit).  And that’s not even the kicker to the whole story…the same sort of scenario happened again…yes, again!  So taking a look back at that point in time, my partners and I were still left with this need that had to be filled yet we were over 8 weeks delayed on our timeline!

Moral of the story…hedge your bets!   This is especially true when it comes to teaming up with the right people.  Hmmm…let me explain some of the logic as to why my partners and I chose to pursue one individual at a time rather than several (and this explanation is not meant to be a form of self-justification but instead I share it as a point of reference to some of the variables that played into our decision making).  For starters, it has to do with money.  Pursuing multiple people, flying them out to meet up, contracting them for a short period of time, etc…all costs money!  Also, we have an intense passion for FOCUS…and so we thought that to focus on one person deeply rather than several not quite as well was the best course of action.

Well, the opposite actually came true.  Due to the time delay of the situations, it ended up costing us more time, more money and more resources to lazer in on a few candidates than it would have if we had pursued the top five candidates for the position.  Ahhhh…diversification!  I used to not like it…thought that it was overrated…shunned the principle of it…yet, its merit holds true…at least in this example.

When dealing with a search to add a new member to your team, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!  Not because people aren’t trustworthy or flake out, or are difficult to work with…but rather because life tends to throw curveballs from time to time and it can be difficult to mesh different people’s goals, talents and ambitions.

Timing is a critical component to any startup…timing to market, timing to product launch, timing to reach a lost people group, timing to set up a cause-related initiative…TIMING (and the opportunity cost of timing for that matter) should play a major role in decision making.  Keep your plan rolling when it comes to filling gaps and meeting neeeds…don’t shut the process off just because one option opened up or is worthy of further pursuit.

I think that I could write more about this topic…but feel that this post has become long enough already.  Hopefully my mistake will translate into your education…after all…isn’t that one of the best ways to learn?!?!   …just some Food Forethought.

By Micah Davis

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One Response

  1. Another way to look at diversification and hedging your bets is pursuing parallel tracks in careers or entrepreneurship, what Marci Alboher calls ‘slashes’.

    I wrote about the topic on ‘Serge the Concierge’

    Here is the link:
    http://www.sergetheconcierge.com/2007/07/stop-obsessing-.html

    Check my panel ‘Just over 50 and not dead yet’ (South by Southwest 2008) http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/633

    Have a great day

    Serge
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

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