Partin Pruthi

October 31, 2016

Startup CEO advice: hearing voices

Yes, the internet is littered with this kind of stuff. In our attempt to present you relevant and interesting content, we’ve tried to compile some non-generic advice for people starting up businesses. First off, the usual stuff you read online, the ’starting a business is hard’, ‘it takes determination and commitment’, ‘find good mentors’, ‘be careful with your money’, etc, all good and useful advice, but not really helpful when thinking about embarking on a business venture. Because that’s what a startup is: a business venture. You’re not a special and adorable little snowflake just because you decide to call yourself a “startup”. So, with this, we begin a series of what kind of information we believe that you should be equipped with before printing your first “I’m the CEO” business cards.

You have to understand that we as people, in a society, have decided to quantify our time spent in being productive in terms of money. Therefore when you’re contributing, you’re generating money. When you’re not actually generating cash in your bank account, you’re just investing your time in the potential of that happening in the future (hopefully more easily counted in ‘truckloads’). The reasons why “companies” (read: separate legal entities) exist, is to compartmentalize risk. Imagine you starting to do something (i.e. sell oranges in the street), and ending up losing your life. That’s what companies do. Money is invested, a business is attempted, if it doesn’t succeed, then it goes bankrupt. That’s what companies are intended to do, that’s their purpose. They are human reifications to enable a more efficient administration of quantities of risk, time, and money invested towards a purpose.

So, this is the first advice: understand that YOU as a human being, are something totally separate from the company that you run. To understand this better, try to imagine that you have two hats: the company CEO hat, and the man/woman trying to find the meaning of life hat. Therefore, when you’re working, you ARE the company. When you're out in a bar, flirting with someone, trying to get laid find the love of your life, then rest assured you ARE NOT the company. It’s usually easy in the beginning when you set up a company, because you are both the owner and director of the company (yes, your astute eyes may have seen that I said ‘director’ instead of ‘CEO’, and you have to understand that the CEO is just one of the directors of the company), so whatever actions you're taking when you're at work, you are acting as the company. Even if you decide to work up the courage and start talking with an employee, it's the company that is going to get sued for not providing a suitable working environment.

If you’re getting into a venture with a partner or more people, and you decide to have co-ownership of the company, then all of you need to quickly understand the differences between owning and working for a company. Here’s a quick way to explain that. Imagine the company is a person. That’s easy. Now imagine the company is a schizophrenic person that hears voices in its head. Owners of the company are the ones that generate these voices swaying or compelling the person to do stuff. The company is the person that is doing the stuff. The directors are just parts of the person that make the whole body work. The CEO decides whether to take the person to the bathroom, or to the bar, or to jump of a cliff; the COO keeps the person functioning, with all the limbs in place; the CFO makes sure the person has enough money in its pockets, so that the person has enough money to eat or drink at the bar, or have a parachute when jumping off cliffs; and so on.

startup CEO advice hearing voices

Now comes the question at the finale to wrap this first part in a series of advice: do you know what comes after jumped cliffs, and failed or missing parachutes? Death. Yes that, probably lovable and gullible person, dies. So this sad movie of the Person Company comes to an end.

Or so you thought!

Here’s the twist: the voices in that person’s head live on! They become stronger, wiser, and provide better voices to the next person’s head they enter.

Interestingly, this has turned into an interesting idea for a movie: a world where companies are schizophrenic people, and they live in a world like ours and have subsidiaries (different versions of themselves) and stuff, and their actions are directly played out by these people.

I guess Bitsapphire is going into the movie making business now.