Question of the Day: R U an Island or a Village?


Today our friend Owen Thomas, Editor of Valleywag, has commented on the wisdom he sees in Om’s strategy for expanding his GigaOM network with multiple properties and writers. In Om’ Malik’s Smart Move, Owen writes:

Blogger Om Malik could never have predicted he’d have a heart attack at the age of 41. But he did foresee one thing clearly: He would never build a business on a single blog so closely identified with one author.

(Found|READ is one of GigaOM’s newer sites, launched last March. The others include WebWorkerDaily, NewTeeVee and Earth2Tech.)

We think Owen is a tad too critical of other bloggers whom he deems less expansionary than our own leader, but he raises an important issue that even young founders need to consider — it’s a spin on the age-old “Succession Question.”

We all like to think we’re invincible, or irreplaceable. The truth is that none of us is. And in fact, as founders surely now, we all need help to make our businesses fly — none of us is an island.

If your aim is to build a sustainable company (recall our ‘Rich or King?’ question), you really must have a succession plan in mind, if not in place. At the least, you need a backup plan, in case something unexpected takes you out of the game temporarily. It needn’t be a life threatening event, either — all kinds of nondramatic things could take you away from your business for a period of time.

‘Success is where opportunity meets the prepared mind.’ And so this prompts our…

Question of the Day:
Do you have a backup plan in place? Or, are you managing your startup as if you are an island?

If you’re not sure, ask yourself questions like these:

* Do you have more than one great engineer?
* If you’re outsourcing, do you have more than one vendor you trust?
* Do you have more than one person who is a great at selling?
* Do you have more than one person who is familiar with your billing and the ins and outs of your HR?
* Is there someone on your team who could step in an take your position at your next board meeting, and maintain the the confidence of your directors?

If you’ve answered NO to any of these, your operation looks more like an Island, than a Village.

Consider this your opportunity to re-strategize with the Village Template in mind. Trust us, some day you will need someone — perhaps many people — to step in for you and carry the ball. We all do.

What is your backup plan? Please send us your suggestions for ways founders, of even small operations, can make their businesses function more like a Village and less like an Island.

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