Your startup is all about the right people

Posted: June 8, 2014 by Amanda Greenwell in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

AmandaGreenwellWe all know that some startups fail over time. While there are myriad reasons for this, including the inability to articulate market differentiation, not really knowing your customers, or simply not being prepared for the gritty reality of life as an entrepreneur, I have seen how a powerful team can make all the difference. Of course, having the right people for your business starts with you. But the people you choose to surround yourself with after that can play a huge role in setting your business up for success.

Founders are constantly told to network, to form a board of advisors, to find the right people. Some of the brightest founders I’ve ever met are the ones who have the ability to recognize they don’t (and can’t) play every role in their business.

One of the best examples of this epiphany having impact came with one of the startups I’ve worked with at UpTech. One of our founders recently discovered that after he spent time building a support team around his business, to share feedback and to make vital connections, his monthly sales revenues increased by 68 percent. The right people—with expertise in his industry and some with general business experience with whom he clicked—transformed his bottom line.

Every startup is unique because no two founders are the same person. There is power in recognizing that one size does not fit all. You can learn how to make cold calls or how to manage growing operations, but finding the right people to buy into you is critical and takes time.

Here are three simple ideas on how you can begin to form these important one-on-one relationships as a startup.

  1. Be open to connections even when they don’t make sense right now: Even if networking isn’t your sweet spot, making the right professional connections for you is key. Talk to as many people as you can. You never know when someone will pop up again in a year or two or become one of your first customers.
  2. Find key business partners that you trust and who will be honest with you: Having a strong relationship with your attorney, banker, or accountant is just good business. If you find key business partners in these and other areas who can tell you the hard truth and stick with you, you’ve found a relationship worth a continued investment of time.
  3. Find one or two mentors who will do the same: Invest time in finding someone in your industry who is willing to get to know your business. We all know the power mentors can have on us, but it’s different for startups. You need someone to get to know you in and out, who will level with you on anything you bring them.

I hope that these ideas reiterate things you are already doing as a founder. If not, there are so many programs, university centers, and business people in our Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem that strive to help you pair up with the right people so you can accelerate your big idea. Get out there and find them!

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