soldiers during WWI trenchfoot

By 1914, the early days of World War I, the British Army lost over 20,000 soldiers owing to trenchfoot, a fungal infection brought about by prolonged exposure to damp and cold and made worse by poor hygiene. How could a well-armed, passionate army of volunteers be crippled by something as mundane as dry socks? In the same way many startup companies, fueled by passionate leadership and disruptive, mighty products fail in humiliation. They overlook the boring stuff.

Finances = Boring stuff

Algorithms are sexy math. Finance is not terribly exciting. But, if you don’t have your books right, you’ll lose the war. If the British Army had supplied the troops with dry socks and whale blubber to keep their feet clean and dry, they could have escaped an easily avoidable loss.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the financial items you need to have in order before you enter into battle.

  • Managerial Finance
  • Assets
  • Liabilities­
  • Taxes
  • Treasury

Human Resources = Boring Stuff

After the British Army got the socks to the troops, they found that the troops weren’t using them. They issued a mandatory policy where one soldier was responsible for checking and tending to the feet of another soldier. They found that by building this accountability measure into the system, they could ensure that the soldiers would keep each other’s feet clean and dry.

By human resources I don’t mean hiring talented people to work with you.  I mean accountability measures like contracts, health care and employee manuals, not to mention background checks, compensation plans and employee reviews. All of this needs to be organized thoughtfully or it could undermine your company culture or worse, get you into a legal mess.

Legal = Boring Stuff

Speaking of legal messes, you need to have an attorney not just for human resources, but to protect your intellectual property, for risk management, for regulatory compliance, licensing, and structure and operations. That’s a mountain of contracts and paperwork.

I have more to say about this topic, but it’s too much for a blog post. If you are serious about your idea and want to build a successful business around it, download my comprehensive Check List for Startups to make sure you have “dry socks.” Don’t go into battle without being fully prepared or one seemingly insignificant detail could derail you.

If you need more details, or have questions, send me an email and I would happy to talk strategy with you!