Startups Must Patch Their Holes — 4 Skill Sets To Help Do Just That

A good entrepreneur is always an optimist by nature. He or she must also be a realist, which is not always a characteristic that comes naturally to us entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs often fall into the trap of thinking we are without weakness and that we are able to cover all the needs that may arise when forming a startup. However this is never the case.

One of the key first tasks of entrepreneurs starting an online business must be to identify weaknesses and form strategies on how to overcome them.

The best way to patch weaknesses is by bringing in others.

To turn an online startup into an internet empire, a great number of things need to go right. Each of these components require an expertise that can only be acquired with the right talent on board.

Here are some of the key skillsets for which a patch may be required:

  1. Engineering: I still meet people ‘learning to code’ in order to build their online empire. Forget about it! Either hire the talent, make the talent vested partners, or see angel developers.
  2. Marketing: Marketers are a special breed of human. They see PR opportunities while ‘on the job’ that you cannot replicate by reading a Marketing 101 book. If you do not have that ‘knack’, you must find it either through hire or bringing in a vested partner with that talent.
  3. Sales/Business Development: If your product requires a sales drive and you have never sold before, be honest with yourself and acquire the talent via hire or partnering with somebody with the ability to sell.
  4. Leadership: This is the hardest ‘hole’ for entrepreneurs to admit they have; the ability to lead. Every entrepreneur wants to be the owner of their idea, however this does not mean they are born to be the CEO of their startup. Identifying the gap of leadership requires deep soul-searching, but my advice is if you see that this is a hole in your armor, do not let it drag your business down. Some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the world sit on their boards and hire CEOs to lead their projects.

I have not met a superhuman who can cover all the aforementioned skillsets. Some of the leaders in business, such as Donald Trump and Richard Branson, put their success down to surrounding themselves with the right people.

Bringing in others is the best way to maximize a startup’s chances of success.

How do we do this?

You can bring in others by identifying which of your weaknesses they can plug, and paying them a consultancy fee (usually hourly) to consult your startup. Or hire them part- or full-time.

Alternatively, you can offer these experts some ownership in your startup in exchange for a more lasting consultancy.

My preference is for the latter. While you lose some ownership in your business, you gain a person (or people) with a vested interest in your startup. This means they are more likely to want to see it succeed than if they were a paid consultant giving one-off advice.

Most entrepreneurs I meet as CEO of KAYWEB Angels aren’t trying to build a $10,000 business. They are trying to build multi-million dollar empires.

When playing with sums that large, what pain is there in losing a few per cent equity if what it brings you is an expertise that may help you reach your desired bottom line?