The Frictionless Startup [revised]

There’s a group of entrepreneurs that fascinates me. They don’t show up at startup gatherings. They don’t get mentioned by the press. And if you bring them up in the community, you get a response of “Who?”.

They’re the ones who realize that all startups compete on a level playing field because they share one common asset – time. The difference is how they use it. They believe in working hard and working smart.

These founders believe they can create more value for their companies by working, not going to events. They realize that there’s never enough time to get work done and events don’t help check things off to-do lists.

Rather than wanting to meet people, they want to build relationships. They eschew large “shotgun” gatherings in favor of referrals and targeted, one-on-one meetings through which they can build trust, confidence, and loyalty.

When they raise capital, it’s not a public announcement because they know investors don’t respond to them; job-seekers and service providers do. Instead, they build and tap into their network, using the less efficient but more effective tactic of face-to-face meetings.

They use friends and family to pitch in whenever possible, find web-based tools to automate processes, and leverage off-shoring not just to save money but to create time. They can’t stand doing payroll, managing the books, posting to social media, or filling out annual reports for the state.

These entrepreneurs value the experiences of peers over the expertise of service providers, saving both time and money. They believe it’s more impactful to reach out to fellow startup founders to learn how and why they did something (and what happened) than find, vet, and select a so-called expert. In fact, when they do tap into such experts, it’s usually through those same peers.

These entrepreneurs are a special breed. They use their time efficiently, seem to always be “heads down”, and make consistent progress. They know when to say “no” and why to say “yes”. And most of all, they stay under the radar, surprising us with their success when we learn about them.

Yes, these entrepreneurs are a special group indeed: they’ve figured out how to remove the friction in a startup.

This is a revised version of a post from April 2, 2012

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