Starting a business with no founders? Here’s how you do it

by Angela Grayson ([email protected]) 594 views 

The saying goes, “if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.” Sometimes you just need to go fast alone, and that’s alright.

In case you missed it, there has been a notable buzz around the creation of startup ecosystems of late. This year alone, we’ve seen a number of fantastic programs emerge in Northwest Arkansas like Plug and Play and Fuel. These and other initiatives provide tremendous value to our science and technology startup scene.

When advising young companies, many investors have been known to encourage promising entrepreneurs to start companies through teams involving multiple founders. The generally accepted rationale is that this approach to business-building will yield a more successful business which has higher revenue and is more profitable overall.

However, recent research suggests that while businesses with multiple founders may raise more investment dollars, business owners who start their businesses alone are more likely to succeed at the business itself than those founders who have one or more founding partners.

So how do you tackle the seemingly impossible task of starting a business as a solo act? Let me tell you how I did it.

When I started Precipice almost five years ago, I thought I knew what I was good at and what I wasn’t. As a solo act, I had to take a hard look in the mirror and be brutally honest about that. The things I wasn’t so great at, I had to either improve (fast) or hire in. As a solo founder, you won’t have the luxury of having your founder round out your shortcomings. I knew I had to be honest about my strengths and weaknesses or my business would suffer.

Apple once launched a campaign that challenged its customers to “Think Different.” I knew I wanted to build a unique practice where the focus was on providing a holistic approach to protecting my client’s technology. I tried to embrace highly efficient ways of working that strayed from the traditional law firm model and embraced artificial intelligence and automation. This was a significant break from the way many law firms operated. Still, these technology tools freed me up as a solo practitioner to focus on solving my client’s problems instead of fretting about billing in one-sixth increments.

Even law firms can offer something unique and innovative. In my business, I took the effort to protect my intellectual property and continue to do so. I have a trademark and copyright portfolio, and I would, as you would expect, encourage every entrepreneur to do the same. I was not deterred by the fact that I was a solo act.

Many times, solo entrepreneurs are so focused on doing the work that sometimes, they fail to focus on building the business. Don’t make that mistake. You can do both.

I know you’ve heard the mantra, “If you want a successful business, you need founders.” I’m thrilled this research has been released because it confirmed what I suspected for a long time: There is nothing remiss about starting a business alone. I could rattle off a number of solo founders I admire right here in Northwest Arkansas who are simply killing it.

If you’ve ever wondered if you could do it too, believe me. You can. Don’t be afraid to walk your path, your way.

Angela Grayson is the principal and founder of Precipice IP, a legal firm in Bentonville. She is a registered patent attorney and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. The opinions expressed are those of the author.