I'm trying to figure out what skills do first-time founders need after they launch. A lot of our work goes onto developing skills in founders so that they can launch, but I wonder if we also need to develop other skills to make sure their businesses survive and grow (think of it as what skills did you need between launching a 1-2 man operation and becoming a 100+ employee company that you didn't have?) All comments appreciated! =)
The transition from self funding and bootstrapping to seeking investors and all that entails.
It's a great question - in the beginning, vast majority of first-time founders are doers. Their focus is on managing tools, software licenses, domain hosting, graphic assets, social media accounts, etc. - in other words, the progress of an early stage startup depends heavily on how much of a tactical doer you are. This also gives people a great illusion of being productive and busy.
Unfortunately, as we well know, most first-time doers end up building things nobody cares about, which is a direct result of doing before thinking - something that becomes crucial if your idea actually gains traction.
When you start growing - and hiring - your focus needs to shift from reacting to planning, and this is where the skill gap becomes apparent.
As I mentioned in another post, it's irrelevant what line of business you're in, the principles are the same, and actually have nothing to do with business or technology.
As a leader of a growing company, you job will be to make decisions, often under great time and financial pressure. How well your company does, depends on how well you - and your "first officers" - can deal with:
1. People - customers, employees, partners, investors, colleagues
2. Crisis - making logical decisions under pressure
3. Time - planning, prioritizing, sequencing, organizing
4. Money - revenue, costs, fundraising, etc.
The bigger the company, the less you will get to do what the company does, and more of the 4 things above (E.g. you founded a web design shop, in the beginning, you were designing, coding, deploying, and working with clients directly, sending invoices, following up with leads, etc; When you grow to a 5-person shop, you will mostly spend your time in meetings and your email client, reviewing, discussing, asking for people's opinions, and weighing in on decisions).
Hope this helps!
Deciphering a P&L and balance sheet were one of my lessons learned after founding my first startup. Hope this helps.
Skills in building a business to support the business you are in. You either need to have the experience or people that can keep the drama away from the process of building product. This is practical strategy skills for every aspect of the company including legal, IP (and knowing the difference), sales and marketing (and knowing the difference), financing and financial (and knowing the difference). And about 100 others.