5 Year Anniversary: Part 4 - Lessons Learned as a Start-up



When you celebrate a milestone like a five-year anniversary, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you started and how far you’ve come, what you know now that you wish you knew then. Taking that hindsight, 20/20 vision and applying it to how you would make past decisions in your business differently can help you open up to the possibilities that lie ahead.


As I look back on my five years building vChief and consider decisions I could have made during the past five years that would have caused a different trajectory for the business, I return again to my areas for opportunity in being a more visionary leader. At the beginning of vChief, I had a bunch of different ideas of what we might do and I decided to go really narrow into this part-time or interim chief of staff capacity and also interim, temporary executive capacity, like an interim COO type of role, and I don’t regret that. I think being narrow was helpful at getting really good at what we did.


But I do think it would have been helpful to think more expansively in the very early days of vChief, to give more thought to what I wanted this business venture to look like in five or ten years. And thinking really big about that. I always thought of things in what felt like manageable growth terms, determining how I could push our growth, but I didn’t think enough about building the team to create this vision of what is possible.


Someone shared with me a quote from Elon Musk about trying to reach your ten-year goal in the next six months and what that would look like. That really struck a chord with me. I think if I had gone big in the beginning of vChief, we could have done something different but, candidly, at that time I was raising young kids and wanting a work-life balance that allowed us to do a lot of travel and have more flexibility. I don’t regret giving myself that work-life balance because we had great experiences as a family.


What I do wish I had done differently is pushed to grow the team sooner so that we had people out there doing business development or other things that would drive growth. Because now that we have really kicked ourselves into high-gear, hyper-growth mode in this past year or so by hiring a business development team and trying to free me up to do more, I can honestly say I’ve seen the immediate results of that.


It’s hard to know for sure whether it would have made the same difference as it has now if we had implemented a business development team sooner, because we’ve had a chance to grow organically through a lot of referrals. While you do need a base to build from, I think we could have gone harder and faster on that front from the beginning. As a founder and leader, it’s definitely interesting to consider what we could do differently and how our business would look if we had a do-over.