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December 9, 2019

How to avoid the startup trap of the parasitic consultant

Early-stage startups have a massive problem: there are way, way too many things to do, and never enough people to do them. Whether it’s growth marketing, or product design, or software engineering or a myriad list of other tasks, something somewhere isn’t going to get done by the founding team and early employees.

And so it is only natural to seek outside help to assist with those tasks, part-timers (and sometimes full-timers) who can add their talent and experience to a company’s early success.

There’s just one problem: consultants are horrifyingly misaligned with startups, as a recent discussion about how to be a great consultant attests. And so if you are going to work with consultants as a founder, there are massive traps you must avoid in order to make effective use of these people.

I’m a big fan of The Browser, an email newsletter by Robert Cottrell which curates a list of five articles a day across the web that Cottrell thinks are the best of the day. One of his selections in a recent issue was part two of a four part series on being a great consultant written by Tom Critchlow, who is adapting lessons from the theater world into the work of being a consultant.


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