Building the product vs building the company

Paul Graham is a bit of a hero of mine as I think he is for many people who have had a go at creating a start-up. Not necessarily for his track record (which is also brilliant) but for his ability to put his finger on what’s important, particularly in the essays on his site:

I’d noticed startups got way less done when they started raising money, but it was not till we ourselves raised money that I understood why. The problem is not the actual time it takes to meet with investors. The problem is that once you start raising money, raising money becomes the top idea in your mind. That becomes what you think about when you take a shower in the morning. And that means other questions aren’t.

(Rest of the article is here.)

At the moment we’re really focussing on building what in the start-up world is called the ‘product’ as we design a new service to help people organise small groups to learn from one another. I have to say I’m really enjoying it. It’s entirely what I’m thinking about in the shower rather than worrying about all the permutations of investment or legal issues.

However, there is a bit of a knack to minimising the amount of time I spent on managing the company. Some of that came with experience — the first time I had to do an annual return for example, I worried about it quite a bit, but the next time it was much less of a distraction. Other tricks are about choosing the right tools — Things has helped me not to have to worry about remembering key dates for company admin and the simple spreadsheet I use for managing cashflow is now very easy to use. There’s also choosing the right people to take boring problems away — having the right accountants and lawyers definitely helps.

I guess that’s why we’re running Accountancy Club — to help people spend less time worrying in the shower so they can think about building exciting things instead.

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