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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

The Challenges of The Business Guy

I'm the "business" guy / co-founder over at WooThemes. Our business has 3 co-founders and over the years all 3 of us have evolved our roles to focus on the specific parts of the business of which we're most passionate about.

When we started the company, we were bootstrapping and as a result all 3 of us were hands-on-deck & in DIY-mode in terms of being involved in the actual production of our products, as well all the business & admin stuff. But as we grew the team and hired designers, developers & a support team, our roles changed quite drastically.

So at the moment, my role within the company would be generally regarded as being the "business guy". Most of the writing on this topic tends to agree that a triumvirate of co-founders (a designer, a developer & someone taking care of the business-side of things) is the ideal mix of skills in an online startup. Even though neither of us are exclusively responsible for one part of the business, there are obviously things that I do more and take more responsibility for as a result.

My Responsibilities

This is generally what I spend my days doing:

  • I do all of the marketing & tracking of the campaigns.
  • I do most of the blogging.
  • Exploring potential business development opportunities.
  • Networking with whoever.
  • Managing collaborations.
  • I try coordinate all of our daily / weekly / monthly efforts to assure that we're hitting our strategic aims. I tend to take a step back from individual tasks / projects and take a more holistic look at the stuff we're doing.
  • Interacting with the WooThemes community across all channels.

Not a bad job, right? :) Well, whilst this is 100% what I'd like to do every day, it doesn't come without its own set of challenges.

The Challenges

Nothing in life is ever perfect. Remember that! :) Heck, if anything was perfect, life would be pretty boring in that we'd have nothing we could improve on.

These are the challenges of my job as the "business guy" at the moment:

  • I haven't been designing or coding for ages, so if I have an idea or the team decides to put a little campaign together, I need to wait for one of the guys on the team to handle the design / code of the project before I can continue with my tasks on that project. This inevitably means that there is gaps between the conceptualization of a project and the execution thereof, which sometimes means it is tough to keep the motivation and momentum going for that project.
  • There's a seemingly obvious list of priorities: bugs, products and then everything else. So guess what falls off the radar? Everything else. Guess what a big part of my job is? Everything else... :)
  • As a result of the above two points, I generally have items on my to do list that takes ages to tick off. Either they're not top-most priority or I need to wait for someone on the team to "help me out". Neither is wrong, but I don't get the satisfaction of feeling that I've accomplished certain things by ticking them off.
  • I obviously understand our products and wouldn't be able to market them without that intimate knowledge. But I don't understand the complexity and detail anymore, as I'm out of the development game. I don't understand why certain bugs are harder to fix and why it seems (to me) that all we do is fix bugs or upgrade existing functionality (instead of developing new, groundbreaking products). I need to take the queue from the rest of the team on this and I think we'd all agree that where communication is involved, it's always a bit of a challenge. :)
  • I spend a lot of time trying to tie up loose ends & making sure everyone is on the same page. This doesn't deliver an actual "result" in itself, but does help in getting the work done indirectly.
  • Some days I spend the whole day answering e-mail, yet it doesn't feel like I've been working. Self-doubt is a massive issue.

If you've read my blog you'll know that I don't mind being personal and sharing emotions - yes, emotions - in explaining my mindset and experiences as a business owner & entrepreneur. So I don't pretend to think that these challenges are the worst in the world, but I do think they're pretty significant and most co-founders in my position should share similar experiences.

What are your experiences in this regard?

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