|My two business partners and I have been running our startup for about 14 months, we're ramen profitable, we have a small user base and we're growing steadily. (We've posted to YC a few times before, you can check out our website at www.skritter.com.) By all accounts things are looking very good for us, but we have a somewhat persistant problem that is hurting morale: simply put, I feel underutilized and we all three decided we should ask YC what other startups do about this situation.|
To give you a little background, Nick, Scott and I were all three best friends in college. Nick and Scott were CS majors (among other majors) and I was an economics major. When we first started the business we all three decided together that we didn't want to seek venture capital or anything big, we wanted to raise as little money as possible, get to market, and then live (or die) off of the profit. We raised two rounds of philanthropic funding, one for $30k and one for $25k, it was literally free money.
After that the problems started. We didn't yet have any revenue and our service wasn't going to have high margins, so a lot of traditional marketing just wasn't going to have positive ROI (I know, I ran a LOT of numbers). I focused on doing some menial labor, and I also did a lot of design work, but even that wasn't a lot of work. At the same time I was having trouble feeling productive at 40 hours a week, Nick and Scott were working 60 hour weeks consistently and were still behind. To their credit, they were extraordinarily graceful about the problem, always downplaying the inequality in work, trying to find me new productive tasks and the like.
So here's my question: do other small startups have this problem? And if so, what have you done to mitigate the workload inequality and give the businesser meaningful stuff to work on? Put another way, if you're a three person startup or you have a full time business person or designer, how do they spend their time?