Wearing 10 Hats

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by Britt Knighton

Startups require more of you than what’s in your wheelhouse. 

I love being a part of a startup.  When your whole company can fit in a subaru and go to ikea, you know you are a part of a niche team.  Combine our size with the fact that we built a company around a unique and disruptive technology.  Needless to say, there isn’t a 20 year old book I can glean wise sage information on how to establish a bitcoin investment startup.

While I would love to eat a Werther’s original from the grandfather of the bitcoin industry and get some advice, he doesn’t exist.  In fact, at 33 years old, I am the resident grandpa in our company.

The truth is, there is no rule book for starting a company like this.  But, I didn’t want to give up.  I have devoured a few books like Lean Startup, The Innovatar’s Dilemma, and the like.  Through my reading and a few bottles of advil over the past year, I started seeing some similar thoughts and ideas coming out of our camp.

I wasn’t able to articulate these ideas until seeing a new accounting software called 17 hats. It’s software is specifically directed toward the small business, sole proprietor and startup. Great pitch, cool software.  I also really like the name.  It lends itself to the idea that a small business owner or leader wears 17 different hats in their company.  In our team of 6, we wear a few less than that, but I have noticed that we all wear multiple hats.

I broke down the # of hats into 4 sections.

1) what you are made for:  these are the responsibilities that make you tick, your wheelhouse, forte, bread and butter.  These are probably the reasons you are on the team in the first place.  Be it your accounting ninja skills, design capabilities, or manipulating 1s and 0s.

= 4 hats

2) the Ethereal:  these are the tasks and responsibilities that you cant write specifics about.  These are the Jobs that dont have titles.  for example, our team has an excellent note taker, another person is usually in charge of adding tasks to asana, while another sends out the agenda for the weekly meetings.  These are hats we wear that we know keep the wind in the sales of the team.  Normally, these aren’t assigned or even discussed, they are just done.  I feel these jobs fill in the cracks of the larger tasks we have to do to get it done.

= 3 hats

3) What’s Next?: Here-in lies the rub.  This is when you separate the men from mice or some other weird analogy.  These are the tasks that people just do even though its outside of their purview.  have nothing to do… find something, not in your department… doesn’t matter.  Im done with my task for the week… so what.  I will now tell you a magic phrase that can change the face of the culture in your company.

“what can I do to help?”  or “whats next that I can work on?”

I love this attitude.  Once we are a multi level company with departments and we drill down on the specifics of each person’s role, the need for these hats diminish greatly.  Consequently, in startup mode, we need everyone to adopt this attitude.

= 2 hats

4) Be around:  Pastors and church leaders across the country practice something called “the ministry of presence”  this has to do with stopping the sermon prep, budget meetings, event after event, and just being with the congregation.  I love this premise bc it can easily translate to a startup mentality.

At times, we get too busy to even be available to help.  When teams are in “building mode” and tunnel vision is in full effect, we often omit the time with people as a responsibility we should bare.  staying 30 mins for a beer after the meeting is sometimes as important as accomplishing a task for your work flow.  When a team member is packing up and needs a hand moving apartments, that is a hat we can wear that weighs as much as finishing a blog post on time.  (hint hint)

= 1 hat

10 hats. I suggest we continue to be flexible and helpful.  Wear them proudly.


As always, comments are welcome.  Just be nice.

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