You’ve got a great idea for a product or service. You have a well-crafted business plan. You might even have – gasp! – a round of funding from a venture capitalist. You also have people, but if they’re not the right type, your startup is probably going to fail in spite of all other factors.
What do I mean by the right types of people? I’m not talking about expertise, as that will need to vary depending on the industry, and I’m certainly not talking about formal titles. What I’m talking about are people with a certain mindset and attitude, independent of their role within the organization. Having worked at a few successful startups in the past, here are five types of people I’ve come to view as essential:
#1. The Jack-of-All-Trades
Like Frank Abagnale, the famous con artist in Catch Me If You Can, every startup needs someone that is capable of wearing multiple hats; who can adapt to any situation at a moment’s notice. In practical terms, such a person would be able to write, design, code, sell and manage multiple projects simultaneously. As the company grows, it will need to settle on a specific area of expertise. But when staff is limited (and budgets are tight), the jack-of-all-trades becomes an indispensable member of the team.
#2. The Organizer
All startups are chaotic (if not, you’re probably doing something wrong), but there’s a huge difference between general chaos and controlled chaos. That’s where The Organizer comes in. Despite all the tasks at hand, this person ensures order and process. Many will tend to think of this person as an office manager, but in reality, they could just as easily be the CEO. Without someone dedicated to keeping things organized, your startup will be consumed by chaos and inefficiency.
#3. The Fixer
Remember Winston Wolfe from Pulp Fiction, otherwise known as The Fixer? If you recall, he was called in to clean up a fairly serious mess (dead body). When something goes wrong at your startup (hopefully not a dead body), you’ll need a person that can quickly assess the situation and implement a solution with extreme precision. Startup founders like to use the phrase “fail fast”, but this only works when you have someone who can resolve those failures.
#4. The Yes Man (or Woman)
Ever had a co-worker who shot down every new idea? If this person is part of your startup, you’re in big trouble. Although you don’t want the traditional yes man (a sycophant) you do want people who are open to new ideas and who believe that any goal is attainable. After all, startups are defined by their vision, so if your team cannot buy into the greater, why should anyone else?
#5. The Closer
Does your new product or service sell itself? Of course not, which is why you need someone with a killer instinct to close new deals. Obviously, every company needs a sales department, but selling an unproven concept to a skeptical market requires a special type of salesmanship. They must have passion, knowledge, and incredibly thick skin – they must sell the product or service as if they themselves created it (which might be the case).
What other types of people does a startup need in order to achieve success? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on LinkedIn!