How Solo-Founders Outperform Venture-Backed Teams
When the designer, product manager, and developer all live in one brain — decisions can be made at the speed of thought.
When you’re a solo founder you’re the decision maker and implementor rolled in to one. There is no delay between the stages of solving a problem:
- Identifying a problem
- Investigating solutions
- Choosing a solution
In a team there is delay between every step. The larger and more conservative the team, the longer the delay. Empowered team members may be able to rejoin certain stages, but never attain the bliss of the solo-founder.
- Identify problem
- Create ticket
- Search for duplicate tickets
- Fill out important meta-information
- Assign to correct person
- Investigate solutions
- Summarize the results
- Make sure you’re not stepping on other teams’ toes
- Choose solution
- Get buy-in from superiors
- Get access to company credit card
- Get buy-in from team
- Figure out who should implement the solution
- Create pull request
- Respond to comments, make fixes
- Write tests
- Announce solution
- Update task in task-tracking system
- Communicate with team about solution
- Communicate with customers
- Pass on to other team-member
When you’re a solo founder you have an omniscient and complete view over your company. You own every function. You know the answer to every “internal” question at the speed of thought.
Any sized teams requires that problems be discussed, that dependencies be communicated, that blockers be negotiated and resolved.
In this way a truly skilled solo operator can often out-perform fairly large teams. The overhead is that great.
Pieter Levels vs every VC-backed knock off
Brett Williams vs every small design studio
Examples may be hard to come by. Most people aren’t good at everything.
What happens when the solo-founder gets sick? Goes on vacation?
The company grinds to a halt of course.
The founder trades speed and low-overhead for a single point of failure (themselves), higher risk of burnout, and possibly a more difficult time finding a sale.
More potential tradeoffs:
- Better solutions
- Better software (maybe)
- No one is covering their blindspot
- Can’t leverage anyone’s social network but their own (partially solved by building a large audience).
- Can’t take a break (solved with automations)
- Can’t sale their time (solved with automations or choosing to just not do high-time, low-impact activities). Delegate to Saas, software, or service providers.
Wherever possible the solo-founder should outsource to automation. Automation can let a solo-founder scale to much higher heights and remove themself as a single point of failure for many jobs to be done.
Bootstrapped teams should strive to be teams of one managing robots wherever possible.
Hiring should be done to expand what can be done. Hire out what you can’t automate and can’t do yourself.
Thanks for reading 👋🏻
I’m also tweeting at @AnthonyCastrio and running a community for bootstrapped founders at Indie Worldwide where I make curated introductions between founders based on their revenue and goals.
See you there,