Wearing Multiple Hats, or, How I Learned To Do It All By Myself

Whether you’re running that top secret stealth-mode startup all by yourself, or have a few angel investors and a team of 12, all startups require their principals to wear multiple hats. It often makes us feel uncomfortable, because we’re always doing something we’re not really experts at! But that’s OK, because it’s our job to get the business profitable, a focusable future, and a home for invested employees… at all costs. We’re willing to jump into any role necessary to get things done. For most of us, we enjoy it, but often struggle with areas we’re not that familiar with.

For example, you might have a Software Engineering background and you are comfortable building a prototype, acquiring some initial funding, and building the first revision of your website. However, you may realize that you have absolutely no background in Design, Typography, and Page Layout, other than some lustful blog reading. This is a tough situation to be in, but you’re not the first.

Here are some more resources to help you figure out how to more effectively perform when wearing the blue, red, or purple hats.

  1. 36 Startup Tips from ReadWriteWeb. This article points out some really excellent tips for Startups, including “software engineering, infrastructure, PR, conferences, legal and finance.” It’s a must-read for anyone considering the idea of starting their own business by themselves or with a partner.
  2. Creating Web 2.0 Effects With Photoshop from sitepoint. If you have no clue on how to make your company’s logo get that Web 2.0 look, this is your starting point. When it comes down to it, you might not need to hire a graphics designer to set you up for your prototype or first release.
  3. The 50 Most Popular Web Design Blog Posts, Resources & Cheat Sheets of 2007 from crestock. Perhaps a little dated (I mean come on, we’re in 2008 right?), this is one of the most consolidated resources that identifies the best website design concepts of 2007. If you’re not worried about looking “too 2007” then there’s no other place to look. This is also a great way to get introduced into design, and very quickly learn what trends exist.
  4. 8 Web Design Mistakes That Developers Make from wakeuplater. Read and catch these mistakes before you do them, because you know you’re really just an amateur designer waiting for the business to make enough money to hire a truly fantastic expert.
  5. 100 Photoshop Tutorials for Creating Beautiful Art by 3dTotal. Well, this might not directly help you with your business, but you’ll learn a crap load more than you ever wanted about how to actually use Photoshop. Then, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to your future projects.
  6. Illustrator Tutorials by Designer Today. Photoshop is great for some things, but it’s not a great tool to create your logo in because it doesn’t scale well. If you need to ever make your logo larger it’ll be pixelated. You’ll want to use Photoshop’s sister, Illustrator. This is just one of the many reasons to use Illustrator.

While most of these resources focused on Web Design, it mostly serves as an example of resources that can help you solve the problem of wearing a hat you’re not familiar with!