Laziness & Startup Life Stories


There are days I don’t want to do anything… like blog.  or make videos.  On these days I still force myself to do these things.  Mainly as a testament of consistency.  If you do something long enough… you will eventually get there.  Even when progress seems incredibly slow.  I wanted to talk about laziness and how it’s incredibly destructive of a startup.   The model behind a startup is everyone tries as hard as they can and hopefully we get rich.  Well..  because every employee has multiple responsibilities, when things fail, it’s difficult to pinpoint who failed.  Rather it’s the team that fails.

An individual can always point to his other responsibilities as a reason why a particular task failed.  The CEO wipes the counters at night and tidies up the room.  The bad part is when you have a team… and everyone is working hard minus that one person.  That one person goes home early… comes to work late… and doesn’t contribute to the project goals.  Other team members will mimic this behavior.  Because, why not?  That person is being paid the same…

A low tolerance level to panic is a good reason to not join a startup.  Laziness is another reason.  Eventually… you will be called out.  It takes longer in a startup because it’s hard to determine if someone is lazy… or is doing other tasks.  Eventually the boss will assign one task, asking them to drop all other tasks.  At that point…  gotcha.

A startup is not like the US government… where doing nothing is probably preferable to being to active.  There is always more things to do.  This creates a system where an employee can hid their productivity by saying they were working on another client.  I’ve seen employees last a long time doing this….

In the end, an employee who is lazy will make all your employees lazy.  In a small startup, all the employees know who the lazy one is.  If the boss doesn’t weed this out fast, the entire company will assume it’s okay.  Certainly, you have alpha types which won’t take this behavior well.  But when push comes to shove… I’ve seen some incredibly lazy employees offer compelling false justifications why they should stay.  A startup is only as strong as it’s weakest link.