All of this comes back to making things go as fast and smoothly as possible. When you feel things start to slow down, you have to keep asking questions. Questions are your best weapon against inertia.
Two things we have on hand as weapon as startups. Speed and Time. If we have a plan and we leverage well on it, there is a much likely chance of winning.
However, when it comes to hardware, is it different?
I used to think so too. That was when I knew nothing about hardware. I read up listen to friends and follow the traditional way of prototyping. It took time and it was sucking away life from the startup and the team. The good news is this has changed. A Google search will help you find out the best prototyping house around and you just need to do the solid marketing. When I was in Shenzhen, I watched my hardware startups from SF making their way to the prototyping houses and telling them what they want to do. The startup just need to focus on marketing and making sure their was cash for the prototypes.
If you are planning to do hardware, maybe and maybe you can win with speed too.