Working in Isolation Requires a Self-Regulating Throttle

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been in Dubai as part of the Dubai Future Accelerators program, but the last week has been alone – that is, my colleague left for other appointments at home. It’s been a great experience continuing to spread my proverbial wings and practice entrepreneurship in its simplest root – performing customer discovery. It’s also meant I’ve had the chance to better understand the challenges, opportunities, and the delta between what our cloud-platform can provide and what the use case calls for. I’m having a lot of fun. However, it also means I must practice a lot of brainstorming in silo and keep an eye on both tactical and strategic objectives. That’s a bit tougher. It requires self-regulation.

Most everyday, I am immersing myself with the client and use case. I’m really employing my former consulting experience here while fine-tuning to the needs of a startup (read: entrepreneurship). Every so often, I get a chance to catch up with my colleagues back home. As a non-programmer, I must balance what is wanted, what is required, what can be accomplished with limited resources (especially time)… all the while managing expectations as a sales professional.

On my first day, I went deep into the process. From consulting, it’s akin to “stapling myself to an order”. That is, living through the life of what is happening to better understand the granular challenges. We were asked early on what the strategic goal was. It’s interesting to see how the challenges and desire for solution(s) can be misaligned seemingly. It goes back to the balance and identify of tactical vs. strategic objectives. It’s easy to get absorbed into the weeds of a challenge. When you’re deep in the weeds, you can’t see what’s truly happening or the cause of problems because you can also see what’s happening in front of you. That’s why it’s important to step up and out and assess what’s happening at the macro-level. This is a great reason why asking “Why?” five times is a great approach.

In some ways, it’s like having that “out-of-body” assessment as I mentioned a couple months ago in “Customer Discovery Through the Out-of-Body Experience”. Except, instead of asking the customer to do this, it’s for me to do it.

Working in isolation can be tough even when one can say working with the customer is team work. But the truth is the customer doesn’t always know the company’s capabilities, what are off limit, how this opportunity affects other opportunities, etc. That’s why having that second set of eyes and ears is so important. But if that’s not there, then it’s up to the solo artist (me, in this case at the moment) to have the self-regulation to throttle speed–speed up or slow down—as needed.

More of a self-reflection post, but an anecdote most solopreneurs can do well to consider.