Build Your A-Team


Build Your A-Team

When you first set out to execute your brilliant startup idea, you may feel you have all of the answers. You are able to make decisions quickly and move at lightning speed. However, you will learn that you will go further by collaborating with and building an A-Team.

The first step in building your A-Team is determining the skill sets you will need. If you are building a technology-based company, it is ideal that you have two co-founders: a technical co-founder and a co-founder who understands sales, marketing, PR and branding. In this scenario, you have two co-founders who are equally responsible for executing the idea. Of course, no two people have all of the answers.

The next step to building your A-Team is determining where you can fill in any deficiencies. It is critical you first brainstorm all of the key functions within your newly formed company and then determine the best route to patch up deficiencies. Be brutally honest. This is a great time for you and your co-founder to do some soul searching.

Now that you understand your company’s deficiencies, you can do one of three things: bring in a third co-founder, recruit staff or develop an advisory board.

1.  Add a third co-founder.

When you recruit a co-founder, make sure he or she has a critical role. You’ll know you have too many co-founders when you break out your organizational chart and certain co-founders have few critical tasks.

The mistake I see most often in the early stages is recruiting a chief operating officer too soon. This might seem like a good idea at first, but a small company does not have various layers of operations. In fact, it is best that the two (or three) co-founders oversee operations at the early stages. They will want to observe and adjust the infrastructure as needed.

2.  Recruit staff.

When you recruit staff as a startup, remember that each new hire will be a huge percentage of your company and will have a strong affect on your company’s culture. Recruit people you have worked with in the past or people that come strongly recommended to you. At the early stages of your company, a bad hire can be disastrous.

The mistake I see most often in startups is the inability to let go of a bad hire. If a hire is not adding to the company, they are subtracting from the company. Do not be afraid to let them go.

3.  Develop an advisory board.

When you bring on advisory board members, make sure they are filling a real need. Don’t add vanity names.

If these people are not truly involved with the growth of your company, you lose credibility.

In summary, your A-Team will consist of key players who are assigned critical tasks. As you recruit staff and advisory board members, make sure each new person enhances your company’s culture and growth.

This post originally appeared on Atelier Advisors. Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs. All AlleyWatch readers are automatically eligible for a 50% discount on either of the courses using the preceding links.

Image credit: CC by Robert Scoble

About the author: Lili Balfour

Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator and host of Finance for Entrepreneurs, author of Master the Finance Game, and host of the Finance for Entrepreneurs broadcast on Spreecast.

After spending fifteen years in investment management and investment banking, she decided to develop a firm to cater to the specific needs of early-stage companies. At Atelier Advisors, Lili advises leading brands across industries: from tech to consumer goods. In the past, she has advised over 100 brands, including:

Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Visual IQ, Alpha Theory, Derivix, Practice Fusion, Peeled Snacks, Sustainable Minds, Firescope, Chix 6, Duchess Marden, Erin Fetherston, Eckart Tolle, and Stuart Skorman (founder of Reel.com, Elephant Pharmacy, Hungry Minds, and Clerk Dogs (sold to Netflix)).

While advising companies at Atelier Advisors, she observed a common theme – -brilliant founders avoided finance. She began writing about entrepreneurial finance to solve this problem.

As a native of Silicon Valley and a first generation Mexican American, Lili understands the importance of imparting wisdom learned in Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Her goal is to teach the entire planet about entrepreneurial finance.

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