Walk and chew gum

Someone asked me the other day what are some of the typical challenges most startups face.

There are a number of issues we see in our portfolio and we try our best to help founders through them.

One of them is going from a walking only stage to a walking and chewing gum phase.

I’m not sure where this expression comes from but it basically the means the ability to multitask.

The earliest days of a startup can be stressful but it’s also liberating. Being highly constrained (capital, staffing, etc) means you have to focus focused. There is no other choice. You need to do one thing and do it exceedingly well.

By doing the initial thing well, companies are able to grow. They can raise money and hire. Then their ambition grows and they want to take on more things. Maybe it’s product expansion from ios only to iOS and Android. Maybe it’s building a revenue team. Maybe it’s international expansion.

And that is when the pain sets in. Suddenly you go from the luxury of nailing one thing every day to fighting multiple things. I’ve seen companies get stuck in this stage and almost paralyzed.

There are ways out of this pain. Highly prioritizing the new ambition and saying no is a start. Keeping true to making hard choices is also important. But the thing that makes it all work is a highly functional management team. A team that can work together in a honest, respectful way.

That’s best way to walk and chew gum.