From anarchy to…less anarchy?

“Just f@cking do it.”

No phrase better summarizes the early days of a startup. If something needs to be done, there are likely very few people (if any) to delegate to. It just needs to happen so the person that says it, does it.

If you are reading this, you already understand that startups require a different breed of human that can survive in a high stress amorphous blob with little direction, no tools, zero established processes, non-existent hierarchy that pays less than minimum wage.

This is the beauty of a startup. That anarchy is what draws people in. For most of us, the allures are the undefined walls and the open possibilities. The business or industry, while important-ish, is secondary to the pull of the build.

The problem is after the startup starts and when any sort of success follows. There is no way to operate the same way as before. Every new customer, every new employee, every new release changes the company and starts adding boundaries. Those anarchistic leanings are still there but instead of them being the spark that gets things moving, if left completely unchecked they will be the reason that the company is flailing.

Anarchy is the source of life and death for startups.

Slowly but surely the ground starts to settle under the business. Quarterly planning, employment contracts (beyond those found on the Internet), bookkeepers, code repositories, HR (GASP), processes, hierarchy. You get the picture. At some point the anarchy cannot be the primary source of energy.

It still needs to be there in some shape, just less of it and it can’t be the primary source of energy.

Anarchy can manifest in product thinking. It can be present in marketing initiatives. It should be a constant in outbound sales. If the company falls into a predictable rhythm in any of those categories — doing the same as everyone else — the results will be the same as everyone else.

It is a rebellious act to be a founder and that rebellion can never get buried while building a company.