Unlock Your Team’s Potential to Create Evangelists

Unlock Your Team's Potential

Unlock Your Team's Potential

Many entrepreneurs are self starters…

…when others are sitting in sports bars throwing back some cold ones and others are sitting with their ever widening butts squeezing the stuffing out of those poor sofa pillows….entrepreneurs are driving their burning ambitions forward…alone against the world.

…as long as the entrepreneur continues pushing their idea forward alone, they’ll pushing their idea right into failure.

Starting a business is often a one person pursuit…if it stays a one person pursuit for too long then its dead!

The smart entrepreneur will be thinking about how to find the different resources they need to make their business bigger and better and a key way to do that is to expand the team.

Expand the team…sounds easy right?

One of the first (and biggest!) mistakes I made was choosing my first business partner based on friendship rather than expertise…we were great friends, we liked hanging out, we thoughts the same way about many things and when I had my crazy business idea – it was natural to brainstorm it with my buddy.

Sure. I should have brainstormed, talked, shot the breeze, envisioned the idea’s potential but I shouldn’t have let that ‘chat’ or friendship be the basis of a business partnership.

So, when expanding the team resist the temptation to partner with the first person that’s crazy enough to join you in your fledgling Endeavour…that’s hot tip #1

Hot tip #2: Different types of team members have different motivations; realize that and you have a distinct advantage versus your entrepreneurial brethren.

Let me expand on that last point because, reading it back, even I’m finding it confusing and I know what I mean…

The potential team member’s types you can have are:

  • Employee
  • Partner
  • Advisor
  • Mentor
  • Angel Investor
  • Venture Capital Investor
  • Service Provider

…and given a good glass of wine, beer or some other strong beverage, we could both probably expand that list by many more…

Each type has its own set of motivations – determine what those motivations are and either leverage or change them…

Let me give you an example…

Service Providers: These are the folks who provide a service to you and your company, an accountant for example. The usual motivations are they do your books for you; you pay them a monthly fee or a fee for a specific activity. Simple. You don’t need to even think about it right?

Well….depends what kind of entrepreneur your are….

If you keep the relationship on those terms then I’d argue it’s just two dimensional – you are gaining very little leverage from your relationship withyour accountant.  Successful entrepreneurs MUST always be thinking about how to make more from the resources they have around them.

Continuing with this example…your accountant, if they work outside of your company, do not just work for you….

…they will likely work for multiple companies and their network will likely be extensive. If they are a small, one man accounting shop then they eat because they network and get referrals. If they are one of the big accounting firms….they have taken networking to an art form.

Consider changing their motivation…

…the first accountant I found for my first startup was excited about my business….I offered him shares in the business if he cut me a break on his hourly fee. He thought that was a bargain.

So did I.

As soon as he owned shares in my business his motivation changed…he would accept my calls quickly when I called, even outside of hours. In fact, he would call me with contacts he’d made that might be useful to my business.

In short, he became an evangelist and he earned his shares ten, maybe even a hundred times over.

As a last example, let’s take a look at the Venture Capital investor…

Most Venture Capitalists get their cash from institutional investors. Those investors are looking for a certain return on their money and they want that return as quickly as possible.  This time frame is gettintg shorter and short so Venture Capitalists are under more and more pressure to get results.  Based on that point, a venture capitalist is motivated to work with you and help you build your business as quickly and successfully as possible. They need to update their investors on the investments they make – each of those investments make up with they call a ‘fund’ and they are looking to achieve a target rate of return on those funds.

Venture Capitalists have real skin in the game. Your success is their success – your failure is their failure.

If you are one of their portfolio companies, your VCs will likely take your call, will open their organizer and do their best to connect you with people in their network to increase your likelihood of success. But keep in mind…you and your company is part of a fund….a portfolio.

That’s should give you a few insights into the surface motivations of a Venture Capitalist….but let me leave you with one thought that may be worth even more than you are paying for it…i.e. absolutely nothing.

There are old and young Venture Capital Companies….

…they come in all shapes and sizes….

…there are Venture Capital companies which are mega brands – companies which have helped create some of the biggest and most powerful corporations on the planet…

…and there are venture capital firms that started just a few years (weeks or months..) ago and have very little in the way of market recognition….they are yet to create the brand…their peers are waiting to see how they do…they, like you…have a lot to prove.

And within each of these types of Venture Capital firms are individuals…some who have proven themselves over and over again and there are those who are still looking to prove themselves, to gain their spurs.

Consider these points when you are looking to add a Venture Capital firm and a Venture Capital partner to your team…

…each of these factors and many more beside, change their motivations and the value they can bring to your business.

I personally always opted to team up with those VC’s who were hungry for success and had a lot to prove…

…but you may opt for a different type of VC….

…all I ask is that whenever you look to expand your team…consider their motivations, consider the risks they are taking and think creatively about how you can either leverage their motivations and risk…or change them so they are more in your favor. You are looking to create evangelists…

Thanks for the emails I received from the last post. Comments are good too and consider joining my mailing list. Over there on the right side of the page.


Ps: Any more questions?  Reach out via the contact page above and join my mailing list by adding your name and email in the box to the right. I’ll also send you some valuable downloads to help…

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  • December 16, 2009

    great post. i haven’t read too many of your posts yet, but this one, even in a quick skim through was very enlightening.

  • Pingback:How to build your core team for early-stage startup? | Grow VC > Blog

  • Steve S
    January 18, 2010

    Article on leverage is interesting. I took a look at Yaro Starak’s blog which then led me to a great interview he did with Andrew Warner. Those were the days..

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