Is Your Roof Leaking?

March 17, 2010

This is not going to be a typical post from an expansion stage venture capital firm. I bet you also won’t see this blog topic very frequently from a venture capital firm that also offers financial consulting services and strategic consulting services.

The weather travails that my husband and I experienced the past few weeks in New England, however, bear a lot of similarities to what can happen when things go awry in a fast-paced growth company.

A few weeks ago, we were hit with a Nor’easter with hurricane force winds up here on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Portions of the roof of the home that we’re renting literally blew off in that storm…never to be seen again. The landlord probably hoped that the worst of winter was behind us, and that the roof would hold up until someone could come out to patch it. After all, there were a few days of sunshine where things seemed to be trending positively weather-wise.

Well, the next Nor’easter blew in last week. This past storm has been called a 25-, 50-, 100- year storm. I’m not sure what the technical differences are…I just know it was pretty bad. Photos and news stories of the flooding, wind and rain were a topic of conversation even in my home state of California. What I do know is that the damaged roof didn’t make it through the storm.

Rather than fix a few holes a few weeks ago when the damage first hit, the landlord is now replacing the ENTIRE roof. Oh, and there is also quite a bit of internal damage that now needs repair.

This morning, I thought, how analogous is this to so many situations in the start up world? Having experienced that world first-hand, I know that all too often we turn a blind eye to some nagging issues that we know we should address and perhaps hope that they will just resolve themselves. Sometimes these issues are product quality issues, executive team issues, staffing issues, internal systems issues, sales productivity issues, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, problems usually don’t go away. For a fast-growth start up, systemic problems (like a roof, or an electrical system, or a plumbing system) will only worsen and eventually break in a hyper-growth situation.

Do you have a leaky roof? Address it now.