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“Specialization is for insects”: The must-have talents of a multifaceted startup founder [INFOGRAPHIC]


Challenging the conventional wisdom of doing one thing really well, Scott Handsaker’s colourful graphic will inspire, challenge, possibly frustrate and definitely amuse any entrepreneur who has thought about or tried jump-starting a business.

“A startup founder should be able to…” it begins. And continues, and continues, throwing out a litany of talents along the way to dispel the notion (or, perhaps, the tendency) of business innovators who concentrate their energies in a single field and eventually forget how to take chances and work with risk.

Handsaker is CEO of Attendly, an event registration startup. He pulled his inspiration from a quote from sci-fi master Robert Heinlein’s 1973 novel, Time Enough for Love. Lazarus Long, Heinlein’s 2,000-year-old protagonist, rhapsodises on the many things, big and small, a human being should be capable of in a lifetime (“design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts…”), before concluding with the punchline: “Specialization is for insects.”

We may take issue with that last part, at least as it concerns us Anthillians, but the point is moot. Handsaker’s version makes the case for an entrepreneur with across-the-board versatility, exhibiting traits that are by turns unorthodox, reckless and practical. He breaks these down using categories like recruitment (“Hire A players; Replace B players”), fund raising (“Tell an investor they have lost all their money”), finance (“Make a budget; Ignore a budget”), and character (“Lead; Follow; Act alone; Fail gallantly”).

Take a look. And if you find yourself capable of most of these, writing a novel (like or unlike Heinlein’s) shouldn’t be out of the question.

Infographic: What a startup founder should be able to do

A Startup Founder Should be Able To…