The first thing we usually tell a friend launching a startup is to stop writing checks. Just stop.
Sequencing means building a strategy toward only one goal—obtaining those first 5 paying customers. So what needs to be done to get that accomplished?
There are some basics all raw startups need done—one is protect your IP. But a patent may not be the step you need to take. There are cheaper, more effective steps for some firms.
Marketing Team—should be zero dollars—or close to zero at least at first.
Press—zero dollars and tons of press—best done with zero dollars. Read some of our stories and those of guest commentators and you should get some good ideas here.
Paid BD—zero. If you are even thinking about it, you need an intervention.
Legal—important but totally outsourced and not to overpay with the $500 an hour guys.
HR—only bare minimum and tell everyone this is not a dorm so stop any of the sexual harassment or they get tossed, no questions asked.
Skip hiring a sales force—the second most expensive mistake you can make and it always fails because some founder has a buddy who did a great job at SAP or VMware but will completely fail in a startup. (Their first question = “where are the leads?)
A raw startup needs a plan tightly built, managed on an almost daily basis, to that one goal. Get that first customer writing checks. Get the second and third, invest in customer service, development, have everyone wear 5 hats.
And the number three lesson we learned from our own startups, is NEVER over hire.
Never hire someone until stuff is falling between the cracks to a point where they will have impact on their third day.