I suppose one could argue that “being an entrepreneur” is a state of mind and once you are one, you always are one. But after I sold Spunlogic to Engauge in 2008, I felt like I “worked” at Engauge for the next five years until a month ago when we sold Engauge to Publicis. Sure, I was in a position of leadership and for the last 2.5 years I was President of the company, but it was no longer something I had founded and it certainly wasn’t a startup at 250 people.
So a week ago I left Engauge and officially started Dragon Army, and I feel like an entrepreneur again. And can I say it feels AMAZING.
So after a week of being an entrepreneur again, here’s what I’ve observed/remembered:
Throw out the roles – At established companies, everyone has a specific role. If you’re in charge of sales, all you do is sell. If you’re a designer, you spend all your time designing. However, everyone at a startup must wear multiple hats. There are days when I’m tweeting (you’re following @dragonarmy on Twitter right?), recruiting and interviewing potential new dragons, brainstorming new apps, pitching to the press, testing our about-to-launch new app (you signed up for our beta list to test our apps, right?), and anything in between. It’s so much fun to be growing something from nothing again and it takes well-rounded people to pull that off.
Passion – I now remember what it feels like to have everyone around you “all in” and passionate about the work they are doing. Every startup dreams of getting big, but one of the downsides of growth is that you start hiring people that are just looking for a paycheck. Its inevitable, and those people can still be great producers, but there’s something special about being surrounded by people that are so excited to come to work everyday. I believe that is unique to startups.
No meetings – Remember, I hate meetings. Meetings for meetings sake, to be more specific. It’s hard not to have literally dozens of meetings a week when you’re at an established, 100+ person company. I’m loving having such a small team and focusing all my energy on building and marketing our product.
Small team – And as much as I hate meetings, I love small teams. Small teams are nimble, can move quickly and adjust on the fly. Everyone is on the same page. And if you do it right (and we will), everyone is an A+ player. And on that note…
No politics – No one is jockeying for a new position or “land-grabbing” resources. Everyone has the same end-game. Those that worked with me at Engauge know that I despise office politics. Perhaps I’m just not cut out to work at a large company.
Every day has the opportunity for greatness – At a startup, there is limitless potential and every day you have the potential to do something great. If you don’t work at a startup, look at your calendar for this week and see where the opportunities are for greatness. I bet they are pretty scarce (I know they were for me).
I feel alive again at work for the first time in a long time. And that’s no slight to Engauge and my friends there. I loved it there and I miss those guys, but starting over again, beginning the begin…again…is giving me more energy and excitement than I anticipated.