The biggest challenge with solo is being a single point of failure. I spent 8 years as a solo founder before selling the business. If I had a co-founder involved in the day-to-day, I might not have sold it. At the same time, dealing with health issues for the better part of two years, a co-founder may have harbored some resentment during the times I was less able to carry my weight.
There’s risks with both approaches, but in hindsight, I believe it’s more possible to mitigate the risks as a solo founder than to do so with a team. As a solo founder, as long as you delegate and outsource and put the right controls in place so the business can run seamlessly without you, you’re in good shape. The catch is that it’s hard to see that your first time running a business.
- Get help with support. It’s not easy to hire someone part-time, but it’s huge for your ability to stay focused on your most important work.
- Get a bookkeeper or book-keeping system in place so that it can happen effectively automatically without your involvement.
- Have a developer/sys admin on retainer to back you up so you can step away from your computer and alerts without guilt and so that there’s someone who is capable of stepping in at a moment’s notice to back you up.
In hindsight, I’d say my failure to invest more deeply in these three areas was what led to selling. I was trying to shoulder too much of the burden. Once health issues got mixed in, I simply didn’t have the framework to keep things chugging as well as I would have liked. But I believe that it’s entirely possible to build that framework if you’re aware of its importance.
I thought I was doing well as I had done all three of those. I just didn’t do them well enough. And, I should add that I probably wouldn’t have recognized all of this without having gone through due diligence with two different buyers over the course of selling.