It’s a tough trade-off, the thrill and pace of working for a growth-stage “startup” versus the security of an established business with a household brand name.
In my case, I opted for both.
The 10% Entrepreneurship approach for building my business started almost by accident, but it was a sensible transition that came from seeing the evolution and learning from several startups that I helped on a regular basis; first as an advisor and then with my own investment into Hatch and Go.
I wanted to use my expertise to help companies avoid the most common financial and operational pitfalls that, if left unattended, can derail a great idea to fall into the ever-growing list of failed startups. For example, when it comes to finance, I noticed that many startups didn’t have a clear game plan for key things like filing taxes or using the right approach to raise capital. Other companies let crucial things slide such as patents, trademarks and equity assignment, which can lead to trouble in the long run.
Sometimes, founders avoid or delay these things because they’re afraid of the unknown. Others, they use a DIY approach which could lead to costly mistakes. To avoid seeing more amazing startups fail, I decided to find a way to help them.
With my employer’s permission (I stress this so as not to get anyone fired), including some conditions related to non-compete, I began supporting startup companies as interim CFO or Board Advisor. I would typically advise operational or financial strategy for a creative entrepreneur who had a great idea but did not know how to execute upon it. It was an interesting way to learn more about various, up and coming ideas. I worked for equity (in lieu of cash compensation) and also got to meet some great people.
After a year or so, I found that more startups needed my type of support than I could fit into my schedule. So, I reached out to my network, MBA/finance types, and asked if anyone was interested in supporting exciting startup companies for a reasonable fee (or for equity). Roughly 25 contacts responded enthusiastically that week. I brought the entrepreneurs and advisors onto a platform a few months later – Hatch and Go was born!
For those looking to start a business I would highly recommend the 10% approach – at least at first. Despite the many “unicorns” out there today, the vast majority of small businesses either don’t get off the ground or take far longer to do so than expected.
I’ve seen many businesses fail because its founders have made irrational decisions due to personal (typically, cash flow) constraints. It is no coincidence that many founders are of a young age, because there is a lower opportunity cost, or are at a later stage of their career, having amassed enough wealth to take risk in their portfolio. You can do it at any stage but it’s a trickier balance in the middle.
Think about your options:
You can ‘do-it-yourself’ with various sites that offer advice in return for incorporation or filing your paperwork. I would caution this approach because there’s no incentive to give good advice and a 30-minute consultation isn’t enough to get to know you or your company.
You can hire an attorney to do your paperwork. This is a good option with a credible attorney but expensive.
You can network, collaborate with friends, and/or find partners – also a good option if you can vet your teammates (because going into business with someone is like a marriage).
But, what if there was a single alternative where you can do these three things at once, under the wings of vetted expertise, and at a lower price than DIY? This is where Hatch and Go comes in.
Hatch Experts (CFOs, COOs, CTOs, HR, etc) plug into startup businesses by the hour or on an interim basis (one day per month, for example) at a rate that is feasible for startups. Many Hatch Experts are willing to work for equity in lieu of cash if they like your idea. Hatch and Go is a pairing platform – where both sides have the opportunity to vet one another but wherein all Hatch Experts are curated and pre-vetted. Hatch Experts are not only functionally qualified but they share a passion for growing small businesses.
Hatch and Go is itself a seed stage entity. I’ve turned it over to a team who manages it day to day. We achieved post-revenue status early in 2016. Our next step is to launch a world-class, interactive platform and startup ecosystem.
If you want to join us in our own 10% journey, as an Expert or seeking support for your startup, feel free to check out our website and contact us. We’ll be happy to help!
Matthew Cantwell enjoys growing and transforming venture-stage and middle market businesses, predominantly in the media, information services and related technology fields. Matthew is an investor and Board Member to Hatch Team, LLC (DBA Hatch and Go).