Defining your startup team. Which camp are you in?

When you begin working on a startup business, you’re normally in one of two camps.

  • The I can do everything camp
  • The I need to hire all the people camp

The differentiator between these two camps is normally the individual and I’m here to tell you neither is better than the other. The trick when defining the roles you need in your team, is to be in both camps at the same time.

Tent in the wilderness

Photo by Scott Goodwill

Physically, you can’t be in two places at the same time. I’ve heard people are still working on that! But mentally you can and you should. Having the right mentality to run a startup business is essential to defining your team, growing your idea and building a business. So which camp are you in?

The I can do everything camp.

You are a multi-talented & ambidextrous balanced superstar, who likes to code and dabbles in professional photography and videography by day. By night you’re a fitness expert, who writes killer articles and…you get the idea!

Sadly, you’ll find out you can’t do everything. I used to firmly belong in this camp and it took me a long time to realise that I can’t do everything. Whether you realise this quickly or slowly isn’t a problem, it’s what you do about it when you do!

Some of the reasons “you can’t do everything”

  • Some things you’ll be really good at, other things you will not.
  • There is no way you can be an expert at everything.
  • People who are deeply grounded in particular subjects will be better than you at getting results.
  • You’ll burn yourself out, it’s easier than you might think.
  • You’ll be busy, really busy, so busy in fact you won’t maintain focus on your original goal. You’ll essentially get lost in your own head.
  • You look to hire people to help you to achieve your goals. You’re a fantastic leader, great at delegating and seeing the bigger picture. You’ve got ideas bigger than Elon’s and you’re going to conquer the world.

Sadly, you’re going to run out of money before you’ve started, that is unless you’re very good at finding it, or you’re good at blackjack!

Why you’ll never be able to hire “all the people”

  • You won’t let yourself, you’ll want to be in control
  • You simply can’t afford it
  • You’re impatient, you’ll want to move faster than the people around you can act
  • It’s harder than you think to find people who really believe in your idea the same way you do
  • The solution is easy, but first some hard truths!
  • Whichever camp you think you’re in, your task is to find a healthy balance. But before we do here are some hard truths:

You’re most likely to need to do everything yourself at the beginning. You’ll be constantly trying to find a balance forever, and that’s ok.

Creating a plan for your startup team.

  1. Start by writing down exactly what you plan to achieve and what skills you need.
  2. Define how much of the skillset you think you need, and then double it.
  3. Define which role you will play in the short, medium and long term. Don’t be too ambitious, you’re not going to be in your top floor office for a little while. Also make sure it’s the role where you will bring the most value to the business at the given time.
  4. This is the most tricky time. Play around with the numbers and your plan to find the best solution where you balance what you need to achieve with the revenue to hire what you need. Well, I did say it was tricky! More simply put, with all of the components above in place, you should be able play with:
    1. What you need to achieve against a time period to make revenue and in this what you can do first, to start generating the revenue you need. I find a spreadsheet works really well for this. I often have a number of rows defining my incomings and outgoings and then some columns defining different metrics to play out different scenarios.
    2. How much revenue and sales you need to hire the people you need along the timeline.
    3. How much it will cost you to employ or outsource the people you need.
  5. Talk to people about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what you need. You’ll find that people become invested in your idea and want to help. It always surprises me about what you can achieve with a bit of passion and enthusiasm.
  6. Keep the scenarios you come up with and continue to revisit them. Your plan should never be set in stone and will evolve over time. Don’t be disheartened if you need to extend your timeline or change the roles you need, this is to be expected.


Top Tip

Employing people can often be cheaper than outsourcing, but outsourcing to people with particular skills and expertise that you only require part of the time, may serve you better in the long run.

It’s not an exact science

This theory isn’t set in stone, startups, business plans and other external influences will change your plan 100 times in the next year, but the above should represent a good foundation. Don’t be afraid to revisit your plan, but most importantly, just remember, find the balance between camps.

Whatever camp you’re in, I hope you make it happen.

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