How To Scale Yourself As A Founder

And how to say no to things

Founders do everything in the early days. Why? Because you have to. You don’t have the team members or capital (yet).

That means you’re most likely sales person #1, product manager #1, growth marketer #1, and more. Put simply, you’re spread thin.

Getting more done than any reasonable human would expect is the job.

People ask me all the time how I get so much done. My old role at Uber is now done by a team of 20. Here’s how I think about scaling myself, especially in the early days:

7 Ways to Scale Yourself as a Founder

1. Limit Your Inboxes

I only give people 3 ways to get in touch with me — email, discord, and sms. if someone wants to message me elsewhere, I tell them no. sticking to these 3 limits switching costs and makes it easier to stay up to date.

You won't be as effective if you're going between 6 or 7 different inboxes every day.

2. Document What You Do

You’re going to be the first person doing most things at the company. This is an opportunity to begin building out systems for each of your key functions in as lightweight a way as possible.

A few tools you can use:

Loom — record videos of you while you're screensharing

 Notion — easily structure and store documentation

Then, when it’s time to hire someone to fill the role, your documentation will help that person hit the ground running.

However, don't get too bogged down with documentation. Things change often at early stage companies, and speed is the most important advantage you have. Loom and Notion help you keep documentation lightweight.

3. Use the Pomodoro Method

The pomodoro method:

  1. Set uninterrupted time for one task

  2. Take a short break

  3. Do it again

It's surprisingly effective at minimizing switching costs. Plus, giving a task your full focus often means you complete it in far less time than you would multi-tasking. I'm writing this newsletter in a single pomodoro.

4. Set One Main Goal Each Day

Some fires aren't worth putting out right away. Each day, pick the single highest leverage thing the only you can do and make sure you get it done.

Do this for 3 months and watch your startup grow.

5. Bias to Progress

80% of a good strategy is better than waiting for the remaining 20% to become clear, especially if that means waiting weeks to get anything done.

You’ll learn what actually works and what doesn’t much faster if you get started and then iterate on the strategy over time.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

George Patton

6. Learn No-Code Tools

No-code tools let you

There are many more examples. You can even build an entire product without code by using bubble. I'll deep dive on no-code tools in an upcoming post .

Most startups will need to transition away from no-code tools as they grow, but the speed you gain early on by starting with them (especially if you're not an engineer) is worth it.

7. Start Saying “No”

As your startup grows, a never-ending parade of demands on your time are bound to come. You must learn to say no (even to good opportunities). A lack of focus can kill a startup.

What founders forget is that most people assume they are busy, and won't take offense to getting told no. Here's what to do when you reply:

  • Be courteous ➡ thank them for reaching out and let them know that what they're reaching out about looks interesting.

  • Be upfront ➡ let them know you're heads down on [something] right now. Recruiting, growth, etc.

  • Offer them an alternative ➡ if you're too busy for a meeting, ask them to record a loom or send an email with the specific things they'd like to discuss.

💡 How I Can Help

Whenever you’re ready, here are 2 ways for us to work together:

  1. Grab time with me for a 1:1 session on fundraising, GTM and growth, hiring, finding PMF, or anything else

  2. Promote your startup to 36,000+ founders by sponsoring this newsletter

Homework

Try out one of these tips this week and let me know how it goes!

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