Three Things My Cat Taught Me About Launching A Tech Startup
Launching a tech startup is not an easy thing, so you pay attention to lessons wherever you find them.
His full name is Reginald J. Kitten and, upon my partner’s insistence, we call him Reg for short (never Reggie). We named him after a character from the quirky, pseudo-digital Max Headroom show from the mid-eighties. Since Max was supposed to be a ground-breaking computer-generated TV character, I guess it’s appropriate that Reg (never Reggie) taught me three important lessons about launching my tech startup.
First, Be the Center of the Universe
Anyone who has owned a cat knows that “own” is a misnomer. People don’t own cats, the cat owns you. Reg sits where he wants, bursts into any room whenever he feels like it – usually the bathroom when you really need some privacy — and climbs on the good furniture no matter how many times you try to discourage it with the squirt gun.
The long and short of it is Reg is the center of the universe and he selfishly takes care of his own needs first. No matter what or who gets in the way, his eating, sleeping and playing always comes before anything I need to do. When he decides my keyboard is the best place for a nap, that’s it. I have to take a break until he decides otherwise.
As an entrepreneur with a growing business, the work is all consuming. There’s always another sale to be made, another contact to follow up with, another employee to hire and on and on and on. The lesson from Reg is you are the center of the universe, not your business, because without you, there is no business.
EAT: So as an entrepreneur, take time to eat and make sure the food is healthy, not loaded with sugar or fats. Take time to cook meals in advance and then pack them into serving size containers that can be frozen and pulled out when needed. Keep healthy snacks on hand like carrots and fruit to avoid munching on vending machine junk.
SLEEP: Hold to a sleep schedule. There are never enough hours in the day but instead of puling all-nighters with cat naps throughout the day, wake up early and go to bed at a set time each night. The advantage is you know exactly how many hours you have available and then you can “schedule” your work accordingly.
PLAY: Can’t sleep because your mind is racing? Exercise helps with that. Don’t skip the gym or cardio workouts for lack of time. Build the time into your schedule first! It’s very important. Not only does exercise keep your body refreshed and ward off illness, it gives your mind some much needed downtime. Don’t forget regular daily movement, too. Set an alarm for a physical break every two hours even if it’s just to take a short walk to the coffee machine or water cooler.
Second, Don’t chase every shadow
One of the funniest things about Reg – and probably the real reason we have so many laser pointers in our house – is that no matter how snobby or stand-offish he’s feeling, he will leap at any interesting shadow that moves across the wall or floor. Our Reg once got so excited chasing after a shiny reflection, he skidded on a loose rug and smashed into the coffee table. He wasn’t hurt (thank goodness) but it was pretty funny!
As you head down the path to startup launch, you can’t be distracted by all the shiny diversions that appear along the way. A good business plan is your best friend! You wouldn’t be a business founder if you didn’t have great big ideas, usually lots of them. The key is paring the big picture down to the minimum acceptable product and staying true to the course. Get the basics launched and then start making changes, additions and pivots. If you’re constantly chasing the shiny things, you trip over the stuff that’s right in front of you….and business skids aren’t very funny.
Third, Use Your Resources Wisely
Cats are super finicky and our Reg is no exception. One of the nicest things about cats, however, is you can leave them at home for a day or two by themselves and they can manage. Just give them some extra food and water, make sure the litter box is clean and the cat can take care of himself. He’ll balance his own intakes and outtakes. When he sees the extra food and water, he doesn’t gorge and if his box gets a little fuller, he doesn’t pee on the floor. He uses his resources wisely.
A good entrepreneur does the same. Whether you’re pinching every penny while you bootstrap your way to product or you find yourself newly flush with investment capital, prioritizing objectives and staying focused on task will help ensure your business can thrive.
Do you really need that private center city penthouse office space for you and your two interns? Try co-working spaces instead. How about those pricey full time hires before you have full time work to sustain them? Nope. Try freelancers or second-timers (SweatEquitE.com is a good place to look). Balancing dollars and resources properly can be the difference between ‘living large’ for a short time or success over the long-term.
So, thanks, Reg and all the smart kitties helping us business owners get it done.