May 18, 2020
How to Keep Your Company from Failing – Inexperienced Team
Picking your initial startup team can be tricky. A person who has been wildly successful at IBM may not do well in a startup situation. They may have had a legion of support staff. They may have become very political in order to survive in that environment. They may have no sense of urgency. They may not be willing to wear a lot of different hats and play multiple roles within your startup, and may become frustrated with the amount of grunt work they may deem “beneath them”.
You need someone who can focus on everything devoted to technology. You need someone else who can focus on finance and government compliance. You need someone with enough experience to manage everything in operations on a shoestring. You need someone with marketing experience to get your brand designed, and start working on business development planning while software development is still under development and testing.
Some of these jobs may be able to be filled with consultants, for example, the finance and legal compliance, and since any mistakes in this area could cost you money and lawsuits, this would probably be a good investment. You may want to hire an expert events management company to launch your company and its products or services. But operations and technology are your core intellectual property and should be overseen by people you trust in-house.
So where do you find these people? Some may be friends (but that can be a minefield), but your best bet is to get out there and network. Go to tech incubator and accelerator open houses, barcamps, tech cocktails, industry conferences, co-working spaces, and meet people. Find interesting people, get their business cards and do some research on them, even if it’s just to read their LinkedIn profile. See if you have mutual connections that you can contact directly for information on them. Angelist is another great place to find people comfortable in the startup environment, so check out what you can find there, too.
You can also connect with the investors in your circle for recommendations. They may know someone perfect that just had their startup shut down and are looking for something interesting in your industry. They may already have hit some of the stumbling blocks before and can help you avoid them.
Having the wrong people one your startup team, especially friends, could lead to a disaster. Just because you trust the guy and know he can generate beautiful code with his eyes closed, doesn’t mean he’ll be able to lead a team of people once you start hiring teams to support your leaders. Investors may see that the same person has never held a job, perhaps never went to college. Besides, are you will to risk your company on a friendship? If it fails due to your friend’s inexperience, what will that do to your friendship? They can do a lot of damage while in their role even without understanding they’re doing it. You may end up not only without a company, but a friend as well.
So choose wisely. Your initial team may be just you and a software developer to get your minimally viable product online. The longer you can wait, the longer you have to do the due diligence on the people who will help you build your business. Hire the smartest people you can find and let them do their job. You’ll be happy you did.