Managing in the Startup Doldrums

Not too long ago, I stumbled across a quote in a book I was reading that stuck with me. It was something like “races are won at night, in a light wind”, and refers to sailing. What it essentially means is that races are won in those peaceful off hours at night, in conditions where you can get all of your gear in top condition to capitalize on the crazy winds that you will have to harness during the actual competition. Once those winds hit, you will need to rely on your gear and processes to to win.

Everyone is well aware of the ups and downs of any startup project. We are also aware (especially in the Northern Hemisphere) of the way that August can sneak up on you in the way it slows momentum of production. This is for a variety of reasons dealing with the end of summer - people are often in transition for school or on vacation. The world just seems to sort of scatter during this month.

We are no different at Light the Music, as our team members have been traveling on vacation (Steve was in lovely Panama) and I personally, have been getting ready for my first child (due date is 9/11). What makes this fun is that we are also heads down in serious production on our first product ORO, which will use a variety of pieces of the “everything” song “hooch”.  

The cocktail of pressure, deadlines and August has lead to one of those times where we are needing wind, but there seems to be less for our proverbial sailboat. Steve and I had a discussion about this, and it made me think of the quote I just mentioned. It was an enlightening conversation, because what started as frustration of what wasn’t happening at the pace we wanted turned into a conversation about all of the little things we could be doing to build the big thing we were truly attempting. The list of items that needed tending during this time of slow winds actually became a rallying point for the next push are we going to make.

The moral of this story?

If the winds aren’t available to blow your sails full of life, then take the time to make sure all of your gear (processes and details) is in tip top condition to capitalize on the wind once it does come.

Craig, COO and Night Captain.