The One Person Startup: Part 2 – Self Reliance

It seems that all of this talk of needing team members to start a company is more about what others were afraid to do, or could not do, than the actual facts about starting a company and this is nothing new. Emerson talked about this in much detail with his Essay Self-Reliance.

So why is it people don't like Single Founders, well, then as now, "… The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion…"

So the talk of the single founder is more about fear of the non-conformist, and VCs, Angel Investors, any funding source, conformity is very high on their list of things important. So what does self-reliance mean to someone hoping to start a business someone hoping to get the flock to purchase something from you? I think it's a balance between what society sees as valuable, and what you know as a self-reliant business founder.

You have to walk this dualistic Yin-Yang, line between getting a pulse for what society wants and trusting your own instincts and convictions in the process. This is a very tough thing to do because society is constantly telling you that you can't do it on your own. I think that once I figure out the formula I will write a book on this subject, actually I think I will write a blog on the subject.

But until I get the blog up and running, I think there is one fatal assumption to all of this a single founder can not start a business, that is that it's impossible for one person to sufficiently maintain each problem sub-domain associated with the problem domain of business, i.e. marketing, operations, development, sales, etc. I think that the key to tackling this can be done in a very scientific way, problem definition, hypothesis, experiment, conclusions, repeat.

There are three large domains as I see it:

  1. Customer Pain
  2. Solution Creation
  3. Communication of solution to customer

Business fails because it can not do one of these things, and you need all three. The business needs to understand the customer pain well enough to get a solution built. The solution needs to solve the pain easily and well enough so that the customer wants to pay for it. And finally, you need a way to communicate this solution to your customer in such a way so they "get it" and are willing to try it.