Why Startup Founders Should Actually Do a lot Less

November 3, 2016

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s the dumbest thing you can do in business?” is written by Rami Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks.

In the early days of building Distil Networks, my co-founders and I were doing everything ourselves. For four years, we couldn’t take any time off and had to pinch pennies in every area that we could.

When there were only a dozen employees, we wanted the engineers to build, the sales team to sell, and the marketers to market — which left me as the acting office manager. I was the one who took care of things like stocking the fridge and filling the water cooler.

Then one day, as I was about to go on stage to speak in front of hundreds of people, I got a repeat call from one of our sales guys. It seemed urgent, so I answered. “Hey Rami, we’re out of water,” he said. At that exact moment, I realized that I couldn’t deal with minor issues like these anymore, and especially not right before going on stage. Thus, we hired an office manager.

Alas, due to a combination of frugality and my own stubbornness, it didn’t stop there. I had to learn this lesson several times over before it fully sank in. With finances, I was constantly working on the model myself; with sales ops, I was the one running the analytics. Even the things I wasn’t doing myself, I would try to supervise. Every time I shifted my focus from one to another, the first thing would break, and so on and so forth.

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