Entrepreneur Dopamine Taks
Eric Ries talks about vanity metrics and how dangerous they are in his great book “The Lean Startup”. Vanity metrics are when an entrepreneur or a startup created these shiny -but largely useless- achievements by a startup like getting an article in Techcrunch or throwing a great launch party. These are nice-to-haves but not really product or market achievements.
There’s another category of useless activities entrepreneurs could engage in and I only mention them because I personally find myself trapped in them; Dopamine Tasks. They are these lists of to-dos that an entrepreneur creates for himself, his co-founders or his team at large that are not the team’s most pressing priority. The key difference between those and what Eric ries was referring to is that Dopamine Tasks are more on a day-to-day basis and thus can be very dangerous. Time is the founder’s most valuable resource and his/her most scarce one too.
While in the “building the product phase” you might find yourself wasting half a day designing your business cards, well, you’re not really meeting customers yet until you have something to discuss. While there is a big deadline on delivering some designs you might find yourself sweating on building your AngelList profile and trying to make it perfect, well, you ain’t raising for another 3 months! And the examples can go on forever. Small tasks that make you feel you’ve been productive today but aren’t really your priority now.
Sometimes as a founder you could find yourself creating all these small tasks on a day-to-day basis to make you feel that your day was productive. Furthermore, because being a founder is a very unique situation where you have to define your own work vs having it defined for you in a big corporation, you sometimes wake up wondering “ok, what should I do today”. 99.99% of the time there is more than your day can fit but it is always what to prioritize that is the problem. These 2 factors combined with trying not to waste a lot of time thinking about what to do can lead to creating laundry lists of non-important items.
I’m trying to watch out for those because I’ve been trapped in them often lately and I recommend you become aware of them too.