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Startup Journal: How Many Hats Can You Wear?

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Success is knowing which hat to wear at which moment. We all have different roles to play, and being able to masterfully play each is the key to more than just progress. It's the key to growth, to sustainability, to symbiosis. Following this Shakespearean motif: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. In a startup, everything is thrust upon you.

It's up to you to turn what's thrust upon you into greatness, to acquire numerous hats and know which fits best in each occasion. This is not easy to do. I can't even say that we do it masterfully. We have no choice but to do it, though. Take me as an example.

Day-to-day I'm in charge of creating content, advertising, growing our dozen+ social media channels, marketing strategy, automation, press, SEO, and analytics. In a larger organization, there's a different person for each of those roles, if not entire teams.

I also work some with product development - as in any true startup - as well as event preparation and a hodgepodge of other areas. Our level of success as a company depends in (large) part on my ability to wear the appropriate hat at the right time, and to wear many as time goes on. That's the responsibility of everyone on our team!

As I understand it, this applies to anyone involved in the early stages of a tech startup. All of the hats I listed above fall under the umbrella (sombrero, if you will) of marketing. But like everyone else, I have to be able to put on the sales hat, or customer service hat, or financial planning hat, or product development, or business partnerships, or implementation and success hats at any given moment. That's a lot of flexibility! That's a lot of expertise each person has to possess.

What's funny to think about - funny intriguing, not funny haha - is how "narrowly" focused our roles have become since I joined the team in January 2015. We used to all be in one office doing direct sales, then discussing product development, then planning for and heading out to trade shows. We all did everything.

Now we've more or less settled into roles with respect for each other. For instance, if something comes up related to marketing, I'll probably head the charge, but I'll ask a couple of the guys for their input because I genuinely respect their insight. A year ago it would be: Who wants to do this? And then we'd jostle the task around before someone officially claimed it. Now there's placement. It's a very interesting development to watch in a group of people you call friends.

We each put on a dozen different hats everyday. It's what we've had to do, and will have to continue doing. If you're involved in a startup, you probably understand this phenomenon. You can't afford to hire experts out of the gate, so you have to become experts yourself. It's challenging, but that's where you'll find success. In being able to switch between roles instantly as the need arises. What does that look like in your venture? How many hats can you wear?