A pattern I’ve seen around SaaS startups which are able to scale most efficiently are the ones where a founder is laser-focused (ie. actively pounding the pavement) on BD/Sales – at least until product-market fit – but best-case, until you simply cannot handle the volume. You’ve learned which verticals to target, how best to pitch to customers, how to sell, how to price, what to charge for on-boarding, who the decision makers are — and ultimately, you’ve learned what skill sets are required when you make your first dedicated BD hire. Your new VP of Sales may be able to help you increase volume and maximize unit economics – but you’ll be intimately aware of what their OKR’s should be and what their role entails, making you a stronger and more effective manager. Passing this critical role to someone else too early is risky, and most often costs you time, energy and additional burn (I’ve seen it drag for 6-9 crucial months)… Not the first time this has been written or said, but doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it early and often. My $0.02
I am once again reading through the final pages of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It’s a book I’ve been reading almost every year for the past six years now, and each time I finish I feel more informed about the world around us.
While somewhat controversial among historians, I find Diamond’s position to be one of the best theses on human nature and how we got to where we are. In it, Diamond posits that our modern society is a result of distinct and practical events, driven not by prevalence of any race but by geography. In this view, geography and climate dominate and ultimately determine how societies form. Simply put, agrarian societies collided with hunter-gatherers, and as technology improved and as Europeans & Asians explored the outer limits of their maps, germs and warfare resulted in massive genocide. Through the ages, struggles to control food supply and related economies led to displacement, bloodshed and political strife.
Every time I finish it, I discover new thoughts that force me to rethink the modern world around me. Though, a consistent takeaway each time is simply that history repeats itself, and that human nature will always prevail. We are at once in perilous times and wonderfully prosperous times.
Will history continue to repeat itself? Inevitably, it will — and as sad as that reality may seem, we can continue to make incredible progress along the way.