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Go Get A Cofounder [Mistakes I Made #5]

Aug 3 2011 :: by Alex
This is the 5th post in the "Mistakes I made" series, where I share the "donts" of my startup experience.
I'll start from afar. My website has a number of pricing tables and I thought the tables look just fine. Until one morning I realized that they're a complete usability nightmare. Here's the "before" look:

A messy pile of text, prices, red-fonts and buttons organized into variable-height rows. I spent an hour or two tuning it until I had a much cleaner design:

A small number of tiny changes - making the price "stand out", adding background colors to the table rows etc - has improved my conversions by almost 10% and sure saved me from a number of support-questions... But I had a crappy pricing page for years. All because I didn't have a cofounder to tell me to "go and redesign this crap".

You need someone to call you an idiot

There are downsides of being a single founder. Even aside from the fact that a startup is too much for one person to bear. You need someone to challenge you. Someone to question your decisions.

Someone to call you an idiot. To tell you "man, this is crap, and needs rethinking".

Employees won't call you an idiot. You're the boss. Even if they try, they fall back as soon as they face resistance - "ah, whatever, you're the boss, it's your call". In fact, most of the failed startups I know have this in common: the lack of someone calling the founder an idiot. That eventually makes him come to believe that he's always right.

Customers won't call you an idiot as well. The ones that would - have already chosen your competitor's product. Also, as we all know from Joel:
  1. Customers Don't Know What They Want.
  2. Stop Expecting Customers to Know What They Want.
As a single person in charge you get used to your creations (that you're obviously in love with), not noticing the obvious idiocies. At that point getting a cofounder becomes more important than anything else. So go and get one now.

PS. I highly recommend reading PG's essay on this (scroll to #6). 'Go Get A Cofounder [Mistakes I Made #5]' was written by Alex by Alex. CEO, founder