This mistake is a bit different than the mistake of building the wrong founding team.
Entrepreneurs are like parents, sometimes they get attached to their products too much as if it was their own baby. In an essence, it is but the baby doesn’t need only food (or so I was told).
Not making sense? well the point I am trying to make is that when you have a product you tend to put all your focus on it, and forget that there are other areas needed for this product to flourish.
Allow me to give you an example, say you have an app or an IT platform that you built your startup around, the tendency here would be to get as many developers as you can to ensure the product is perfect. However, you need to pause, step back and think about the factors that make a product successful and then hire people accordingly.
In general, you need to build the right foundation and infrastructure in order for the team to take the product and turn it into a company. To do so, here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Identify the skill sets you already have in the team, and assess whether you have enough people with these skill sets, too few, or too many.
- Read about successful companies that offer similar products to yours, learn from their team structure, the type of people they have, and the job postings they advertise for
- Go back the drawing board and try to understand what would it take for this product to be successful, define that based on your strategy, is it B2C, B2B, or B2G, does the success of this product depend on being marketing intensive or sales intensive team? Do you need to educate your customers / clients, and if so, do you have a strong communication person in the team? Is your product’s value in the ease of use, and if so, do you have a great UI expert? Does your product depend on being showcased in the media, if so, do you have a strong public relation expert? and so on.
- Don’t settle for C, or even B players. (OK, sometimes you need to accept B players), but in general aim for A players to fill the positions that are in the critical path of success for your company. If you depend on marketing to succeed, invest a lot in a good marketing strategy and employees. If you don’t have access to local talents, reach out online. Many major successful products have team members spread across the world
- If the current team doesn’t have an important skill your company needs, and you can’t find a suitable team member to hire, think of out-sourcing for a short period of time. Don’t wait for the perfect candidate (because he/she doesn’t exist)
- Perform gap analysis periodically to map the needed set of skills, vs what you have in the team. Always make sure the skills needed for the growth and success are filled with the right people, Always.
These are just small steps you can take to ensure that you are not a product-focused manager, but rather a company-focused leader. What matters is the growth and sustainability of your company, not the number of features you add to your products or the number of services you offer.
Having said that, I do NOT mean to compromise the quality of the product, what I meant above is the additional “nice-to-have” features/services that normally get entrepreneurs excited and cause them to forget to reap the benefits of the core offering.
I wish you the best of luck building the right team!