Thursday, May 29, 2008

You're Not Perfect - Surround Yourself With Greatness And Own Up To What You Suck At

People often ask me:
"Why are VCs always on my case to hire more people? I'm doing all of the jobs they're hiring for just fine."
The unfortunate reality is that startups are complex. To be successful, they require a variety of backgrounds, skillsets, and expertise. Previously, I blogged about walking the factory floor. It was one of the things a founder could do to try to keep the CEO job after getting funded.

However, the most critical skill to have when you're at the top of a startup is self-awareness. No founder/CEO is perfect. Know your weaknesses, and be able to admit them. In other words, know yourself. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who can recognize the exact holes they have to fill in their organizations.
What the entrepreneur says: "I don't need to hire a dedicated business development guy, because I've been doing that job since the day we started."

What the VC is thinking: "This guy obviously doesn't have the skills to be a great CEO, because he can't even see the holes in his own organization. He can't fill gaps he doesn't even see. Looks like we'll have to replace him."
In fact, if you really want to impress a VC, communicate where you think you need expertise, and potentially how the VC could help. Be proactive and do this before they have even funded you. VCs love hearing an entrepreneur asking for help, especially when it comes to finding good people. The faster you can recognize your weaknesses, the better. You'll more easily avoid a lot of the problems that plague early stage ventures, create a vastly stronger team, and live to fight another day as CEO.

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