Reflections On Skills I Want Before My First Company

3 months ago I documented the skills I would like to develop before starting my first company.

I didn’t expect 3 months to go by so quickly. But then, who does?

Today I reflected on the skills I wrote down and how I feel I’ve progressed.

Hard Skills

  • Finance 45/100
    Finished “An Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, but wouldn’t consider myself apt to correctly identify areas to cut costs and increase spend.  I think this will come with practice, challenging myself to find ways to practice now. I have a rough outline of how to raise money, but don’t feel super competent. I think this will also come with practice.
  • Web design 0/100
    No significant progression.
  • Engineering 10/100
    I interact with a lot of IT professionals in my current role and I’ve learned a more about the basics of IT, verbiage and pain points, but not so much engineering.
  • HR 30/100
    Besides leading by example and hiring people with cultural fit, I don’t understand how to preserve a work culture or how to create an environment that fosters creativity and hard work. However, two friends recently changed jobs and I found their reasons to be interesting 1) the location is not conducive 2) they feel like they aren’t doing work that’s going to help people.
  • Legal 25/100
    One of my favorite things to listen to is the lecture series “How To Start A Startup.” The lecture on legal provided good insight on pro-rata rights, how to distribute equity, properly incorporate your company (as a Delaware LLC!) and resources to get legal paperwork done safely using Clerky. (it’s a YC startup itself!)
  • User Research 45/100
    Who you talk to is just as important as what you ask them. Common mistakes in user research are: showing people your product, asking about your pet feature directly, talking to who is available rather than talking to who you need to talk to. There’s a great lecture on user research, also a part of the YC lecture series, that definitely has me feeling more equipped!
  • Strategy 0/100 
    No significant progression.
  • Marketing 30/100
    I went to a work conference recently where the customer experience was incredible and unparalleled. I will never exhibit at a conference the same way.
  • Tech 10/100
    This is quite difficult to quantify. I don’t think I’ve identify what underlying technology factors are going to change a business model for the next couple of years.

Soft Skills

  • Time management 45/100
    Better than ever. I’ve made it a habit to determine success for each day + identify the number one action item to accomplish success + and setting a time limit for that item. This is something I must daily remind myself of, and why establishing this as a habit is so crucial.
  • Workout routine 60/100
    Going to the gym 4-7 times a week and feeling mentally and physically better because of it.
  • Sales 68/100
    Actively sharpening skills and learning to ask good questions that transfer ownership.
  • Hiring 50/100
    I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of 3 marketing interviews. Learning to ask good questions in a field I don’t have industry experience in and identify signs of talent and red flags has been awesome. I think working on a project with a candidate is my favorite form of interviewing.
  • Giving feedback (especially on areas to improve) 20/100
    I’ve gotten better at asking for feedback but don’t think I’ve made progress at giving it.
  • Core values 27/100
    So far we have two characteristics, but not quite values: curiosity and enthusiasm.

This was such a fun exercise. When I repeat the processes I will definitely strive be more quantified in my goals for each skill.

Summary: Writing out what skills I want to learn before starting my first company helped me see where I need to improve and how far, or close, I am to that goal. Reflecting after a three month time period put the progression in a more tangibly light, which I found encouraging.

If this exercise is applicable to a goal you’re chasing, I challenge you to do it as well.

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