It Takes A Village To Raise A Startup. Build Your Village.
We’re sure you’ve heard the African Proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”. The proverb essentially points to the importance of building a strong community of diverse individuals around a child that help support, challenge, enrich, and cultivate an environment for them to grow and thrive. So what would happen if we adopted that line of thinking and applied it to the growth of fledgling businesses and founders?
There has been no greater indicator of the benefits of adopting the “it takes a village” mindset than through the results we’ve seen from running our 1776 “Stack” programming. Every month we run one of three 1776 Stack programs: Capital Stack, Strategy Stack, or Press Stack. The 1776 Stacks create a low-pressure, curated environment for small groups of founders to drive discussions around best practices and insights to building their business with top investors, policy and innovation mentors, and strategic media relationships. But what we initially thought would be produced programs that provided a warm opportunity for founders to engage with experts, quickly became much more about building meaningful and valuable relationships that would continue to benefit each founders’ growth long after the program was complete.
Below are some tips we’ve learned from 1776 programming experts for building a strong, supportive infrastructure to enhance your high growth tech business.
ENTREPRENEURS NEED EACH OTHER, MORE THAN THEY NEED US.
Founder to founder connections have been some of the most fruitful relationships for our members that have not only helped to make the “road less traveled” less lonely one, but that have also saved some early stage founders extremely valuable time while growing their business. Whether navigating similar industry challenges or a specific stage of growth, founders can challenge one another to think outside the box and share lessons learned from both successes and failures. In most cases, once a meaningful founder-founder connection is established, there is also an opportunity to share resources like network connections and relationships that can also drive growth and help expand networks.
KNOW YOUR CRAFT. TOO MANY FOUNDERS DO NOT.
1776 member and serial entrepreneur, John Gossart, recently spoke to our Accelerator Fall Cohort in Washington, D.C., and the biggest take away from everyone, beyond knowing what your ASK slide is actually asking, was simply and undeniably that John Gossart knows his stuff. As a co-founder, John knew the science and art of his current startup and the various moving parts associated with his industry to an unprecedented level. Founders that truly understand their craft stand out, every time. During every Stack program at 1776, we encourage facilitators to take copious notes and provide support in keeping the conversations flowing. One can recognize the founder that truly knows their business by the questions they ask, by the manner it is asked, and most importantly, by the comprehension in which it is received. My advice is simply spend less time reading books about best practices, and go painfully deeper to understand your customers, your product, your investor profile, your numbers and the many contributing factors that allow you to derive a vision statement.
THEY WHO KNOWS OTHERS IS WISE. THEY WHO KNOWS THEMSELF IS ENLIGHTENED.
Being strategic about building your community relationships starts first, however, with self awareness. During 1776 Strategy Stack programming, renowned entrepreneur Michael Golden, shared that “self awareness” is a huge trait of successful entrepreneurs. “Know your strengths, and surround yourself with people who have skills in your weaknesses”. Once you’ve identified your areas of strength and weakness, you can begin to think strategically about the individual relationships you build that will help to supplement your areas of weakness and ultimately lead to business growth.