No Titles Please – We’re a Startup

I had to laugh out loud when I read this at jacquesmattheij.com:

At some point in the thread he writes: “We are working on that now. It might give us more breathing air but still will keep us with a CEO (him) that I cannot trust professionaly.”

I practically fell off my chair when I read that. A three letter title in a two man company ? What does that make him ? CTO ?

…and then he continues:

Titles are for insecure people that need to have their egos re-inforced or they are for people that have reached a stage in the life of their startup where it starts to make sense to divide the work in to fixed roles, where you have well defined territories and people as a rule will avoid crossing over in to each others territories.

I could not agree more.

That’s why we only have one title at startupSQUARE: Co-founder. The Co-founder is responsible for whatever needs to be done, including dealing with the bank, ordering staples, and getting the coffee.

What Title Will I Have?

If you’re on a first date with your co-founder and he/she starts talking about what C-level title they’ll be getting, you should run screaming from the room.

Sure, we have some roles.

I do most of the customer development, user testing, & define the minimum viable product. I couldn’t hope to touch the database structure without breaking half the site. None-the-less, we all have to shoulder the burden because we’re always short on manpower.

That’s what startup life is. Always short on time, money, and people.

If your co-founder isn’t willing to clean the toilet, find someone else.

Tech Guys

And for a tech guy corollary: If code breaks in a startup, it’s broken and whoever is on hand has to fix it. There is no “fault.”

Blame is unimportant, solutions to problems are critical.

If you only have two to four guys programming, everybody better know everyone else’s code because eventually, someone is going to go on vacation or quit. At that point, all the code is “your” code.

I’ve broken “my code” and broken Manuel and Marcel’s code as well do to my own misunderstandings. I’m always heartened when we’re able to look together for solutions and not degenerate into a blame fest.

Again, if your co-founder starts talking about how he/she isn’t willing to deal with an issue because it’s “someone else’s problem”…not a good sign. Find someone who is willing to do what it takes.

There’s another word for people who need a snazzy job title and a narrowly defined set of responsibilities: EMPLOYEE

So…what should I post next? Tweet to tell me what to write:

Show me how to test product market fit!

or

How can I do lean startup in my friggin' huge company?

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