You need the best team that is suited to the business goals you have for your product. I've been on many, many panels with investors and when we are asked how important team is we've answered, "we'll take a good idea with a great team over a great idea with no team. That's because a good team will always be smarter and more resilient than a single individual. A great team can IMPLEMENT a good idea then make it better.
This article includes a Product Business Show recording that goes into more detail. (see below). There is a question and answer session at the end of the recording. One person who asked a question wrote that "my mind was blown by the recommendation of who to hire first. Awesome!"
The best team members you need are going to include: "do-ers", mentors or advisors, vendors and prospective customers. The do-ers can be staff, contract services, consultants or equity partners.
Mentors & Advisors - Typically they are not doing tasks inside your project. They are providing perspective and background. As the relationship with you deepens, you might be inviting them onto your board of advisors in exchange for a giving them equity. At that stage they are usually making introductions to various resources or contacts for you. Plus, you'll be able to use their background in your investor pitch deck.
The roles for mentor / advisor will be easier to fill if you have a clear vision of what you are expecting and hoping for from the person you are asking. Too many times the request is vaguely worded and poorly defined. That lack of understanding can create a perfect recipe for upset and disappointment. Again, be clear with your team. Understand that not everyone has the time or capacity to advise you. If they say no, be respectful and do not try to convince them otherwise.
Founders & Co-Founders - Founders & Co-Founders are usually equity stakeholders with equal or varying amounts or equity. When you are in this arrangement the BEST thing to do is be open and honest about expectations, time commitments and capacity. Equity-only arrangements can work. However, keep in mind that if someone's life circumstances change this arrangement is the most likely to break down and create problems in even the best teams.
Consultants & Contract Service Providers - You will need consultants and contract services for specialized knowledge so you can move your project faster. There is a very real time-cost to having to learn all areas of business, especially when you simply won't have time to do all the tasks anyway. Do what you are good at and HIRE expertise.
I know from personal experience how tempting it can be to think, "I don't have the money to hire ______ person. I'm smart, I can figure it out."
You're right. You ARE smart. That's why you might not make the blunder that I did. Instead of hiring the right person for the job I tried to do it myself. Two stressful years later, that thinking ended up costing me over $16,000 to fix the problem that was created. It would only have cost me $6,000 if I had hired the expertise to do it right the first time!
Yep. I got to pay an extra $10,000 so i could learn the lesson very thoroughly to be an effective cautionary tale for you. I've never made the same mistake again.
Do yourself a favor. Learn from my mistake on this one! Having the right expertise around you is almost always cheaper in the long run. Smart business owners know that they need the brain power of others to go faster, and further safely.
It's been said over and over to hire based on attitude over skills. I believe it has to be a blend of both with attitude counting the most. For example, we only hire upbeat, energetic, A-Players. Why? Because it frees me up and adds a vibrant energy to what we bring to clients.
Hire diverse backgrounds and view points
Think about the specific jobs you need done
Pay attention to skill set
Ask yourself if they have the capacity - mental and time capacity - to do what you will require
Part of the joy of running a business is the chance it gives YOU to grow as a person. You'll need to grow your skills as your team grows. Some of the skills you'll most likely need are: leadership, the ability to create relationships that stay on track for business, being comfortable with your numbers and "metrics", being able to plan yet still be flexible.
Listen to the Product Business Show recording posted below for a simple way to see what team members you need now. And we've even added in a case study that tells how making team changes brought a client an extra $5 million in revenue the very same year!
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