Andrew Warner interviewed Troy Henikoff on Mixergy.
Mixergy is a fabulous website for budding entrepreneurs. It features in-depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs and I always learn a lot from each one.
Troy founded the very successful company Sure Payroll, which made it through a trial by fire of having their first funding blow up in the crash of 2000 and still managed to become the largest web based payroll servicing business. Troy also founded the successful Chicago based incubator Excelerate.
One thing that stuck with me from the interview – the most common mistake made by entrepreneurs in Troy’s lab is getting buried in minutia.
Troy gave this example…
“There’s a company that I’ve made a small angel investment in, that I’m mentoring and helping here in Chicago. The owner is a great guy and he loves the details. He started working on an SEM campaign, so cost per click. You can get sucked into the minutia of CPC for days and not come out. It’s like going into a dark cave. The reality was, while he was able to tweak a couple of cents here and there out of his costs, he was ignoring to some extent, the important things in his business.
Long term, there are other things that are strategically more important. He is now rising up and doing some of the bigger picture stuff of overall market awareness, PR, and the things that can add a lot more value.”
Troy believes it is because it is the nature of the entrepreneur to want control…
“The interesting thing is that as entrepreneurs, part of the reason I’m an entrepreneur is I want to have control of my destiny. Control is an important part of my personality.
I see something like that, a spreadsheet with cost-per-click and data to analyze, I want to be in control, I want to do that. The hardest thing to control is customer behavior and getting customers in the door. I don’t want to do that so much. That’s hard to control, but that’s the most important thing.
There’s nothing more important in a new business than getting customers in the door. As entrepreneurs, it tends to be the thing that we shy away from sometimes because the spreadsheets and the numbers are much more controllable.”
I get stuck in the muck all the time. I fall into the trap of “I’ll just do it myself” rather than “How can I creatively enlist the help of others.” This latter approach is the most beneficial because it:
- Gets you reaching out to people which is the most important thing for a new business.
- Frees you up work on bigger, more important things.
Here is another Mixergy interview with a couple of developers who could have done it all themselves but outsourced everything.
Promise yourself the next time you find yourself stuck in muck. Outsource it!
P.S. Now watch me get buried in the minutia of WordPress settings and apache rewrite_mod getting this article to have the correct permalink 🙂