“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” – General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. US Army.

During the initial few years in the life of a startup, when resources are limited, facing a large task is a major challenge. The most common reaction that I have observed when teams encounter situations where the task is substantial is an initial phase of paralysis by not knowing how to proceed followed by a second phase of procrastination or delaying tackling the problem. These delays have a negative impact on the reaction time of the company and how it is perceived by the market.

The concept of eating the elephant one bite at a time centers around the idea that when facing a big activity, that may even seem insurmountable, it is important to break it down to manageable smaller tasks and address them on priority basis, one task at a time. Breaking the large task into smaller chunks provides a number of added benefits as the subtasks can be distributed among members of the team. This in turn could facilitate adding an external resource with the required talent, as well as it may lead to increased productivity as the team witnesses progress and success.

Check out a cool 2 minute video describing this rule can be found on YouTube under the title: How to eat an elephant –Goal setting one bite at a time by that’s easy learning by Jim Muir.

This is one of many biz rules I plan to share with you in my blog series. Stay tuned for more of the guiding principles and anecdotes that have directed me through my career of growing startups through to successful ventures.


Written by

Eli Fathi

Eli has been a technology entrepreneur for the past 30 years and has founded or cofounded a number of companies with a few successful exits. Currently, he is the CEO of Squanto.net a company offering automated fraud detection platform. Eli was the cofounder of Fluidware Corporation, an Internet software company offering Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback. He was the co-CEO from inception until the acquisition by SurveyMonkey.

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