Have I made enough mistakes to put this company over the top? In other words: have I learned enough from my previous flops and semi-flops to do this one right? It’s hard for me to live with my mistakes—I’m a recovered perfectionist. I replay my past gaffes in my head all the time. I know I should just learn from them and let them go, but this quiet little voice chants, “If only you hadn’t done that.” To appease that head whisper, I’m trying to avoid my most recent screw-ups: partners and priorities.
Partners—in general—aren’t bad, because they can balance you out. By nature, entrepreneurs are optimists. We think we can alter the moon’s orbit if that will help us launch a product. I’ve read that every entrepreneur should partner with a pessimist: preferably processing payroll and payables (do I get alliteration bonus points?). Too bad partners can also get on each other’s last nerve and see totally different futures for the company. It can get (and has gotten) really nasty at times. The last four times, I’ve struggled with partner-related mistakes. So to paraphrase Mel Brooks (who spoofed a classic): Partners? I don’t need no stinkin’ partners!
My second biggest mistake in my last venture was my priorities: I built more infrastructure than I needed for the product I had created. I could have sworn I needed a dozen offices and a 200 SF data center to get my dot.com off the ground. Of course I had funding “just around the corner” so my priorities were perfectly in line, right? Stupid optimist! This time my overhead is low and my product is priority. I know I’ll still make mistakes, but after doing this for 25 years, I’m motivated enough to recover from them quickly—and that’s not just the optimist talking.