A founder has to think in terms of flow.
As you work hard, the most important attitude for an entrepreneur is seeing your company as a flow, not as a stock. If you look at it like a stock, you’ll think you don’t have anything. For example, when you need to hire someone, thinking in terms of a stock means you’ll only see that new person as a new cost that you’re paying for. That’s the wrong attitude for an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs have to see the flow: how will things can change if you do X? What does Y bring in that really changes the game? Look at people in terms of what they’ll bring to you and how that positively impacts your growth. That’s why it’s always better to have one extraordinary person who joins the team than two average ones. That extraordinary person will have a much bigger impact on the flow, whereas two average ones just cause your headcount to go up.
Obviously you’ll make mistakes! You’ll think this person is incredible and will bring your startup to the next level, and in reality you were just taken in by a great CV and a smile. That’s fine, it’s part of becoming an entrepreneur—those mistakes help develop your intuition for what will have a real impact and what won’t.
An entrepreneur needs to be a good buyer. You need to know that what you’re buying really is worth it, and then some. It’s one thing to be a good salesperson, there are lots of them (and the best really are great). But it’s another thing to be a good buyer, and the only way to get there is by understanding value as a flow, not a stock.
A startup can only live as a flow, because the whole point is building something that can keep accumulating value, value that - you hope! - will one day in the future become liquid (meaning, it turns into cash). But even there it’s all about the flow: liquid values are much more uncertain than virtual ones. And sometimes that can be a very good thing (like WhatsApp being bought by Facebook for $19B) and sometimes that can be a very bad thing (take your pick from the unicorns whose liquid values never got close to their virtual values).
Want to hear about how other early-stage founders developed their ability to think in terms of flows? Join us in a few hours at First-Time Founder Summit, presented together with AWS, Fiverr, Mixpanel, and Remote 😻