Too many bosses not enough workers. This is a problem that founders may find themselves facing if they do not find a way to divide responsibilities and assign titles that address the division of labor. Startups with multiple founders may find that everyone wants to be CEO when it is just not possible.
This is something that I have experienced first-hand in my retail venture. When my business partner and I started up shop we decided on both claiming the title of CEO and then she would also hold the title of CFO handling finance/accounting and I would take CMO on and handle the bulk of marketing and advertising. This was the easy route, we both invested time and money into the business, mostly equally, so to us it was the obvious decision. It works and then it does not at the same time. If a decision deals with money or finances alone, she makes the call. If it’s a marketing question, I get to the solution. If a crucial business decision falls somewhere outside of those categories though, things slow down a bit, sometimes to a halt. The biggest problem is that we waste a ton of time waiting on a stance that is agreeable to us both, tossing the ball back and forth, with nobody really taking the lead on pulling the trigger, some decisions sit days or weeks, we risk missing out on opportunities or lose out on max return. We get along, but I know that if we ever want to truly grow, things will have to shift tremendously if the business is to reach full potential.
This type of hang up could certainly be avoided. Founders should take the time and care to establish roles and build a more hierarchical-centric versus strictly egalitarian way of running things especially if they want to see the company grow. However, they should be sure not to lean too far in and end up with an autocracy. A hierarchical model can still incorporate advantages of an egalitarian approach and make them work to the benefit of all.
The Hiring Pool
So once a founder has figured out their business structure, the next step is hiring the right people. Good employees with valuable experience and skills are amazing assets for a business. Hiring is hard, hiring great employees is extremely hard. Hiring the wrong people who lack important skills can be detrimental, not just to the bottom line and productivity, but these bad apples can certainly cause the good ones to run out of the door.
Founders need to locate talent pools with the skills that will help breed success. For instance, my dream venture of founding a fire safety company needs people who can work with their hands and be both consistent and accurate. They also need to be able to obtain new clients by providing information and selling the right products to the right businesses. Sure, some if not all of these skills could be taught, but with the right kind of recruitment strategy we could find A-players who already possess skills that would make the transition into our company easier for both us and them. Plus, timed saved is money made. A mechanic is good with their hands and technical concepts, a factory worker has skills like these as well. An individual from a similar company or a competitor would be perfect. A former entrepreneur who owned a B2B would have the skills to talk to other business owners who need fire safety services.
Wasserman suggests finding the pool right for the company in question and tapping deep into it, there will lie the best of the best. Researching and understanding talent pools is important and can prevent founders from having to deal with the headache of having the wrong people, not to mention reduce turnover, and save money.
Herrenkohl, E. (2010). How to hire A-players: finding the top people for your team–even if you don’t have a recruiting department. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Wasserman, N. (2012). The Founder’s Dilemmas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.