As an investor or an entrepreneur it is easy to get caught up in product development. And yes, it is incredibly important to have an excellent product – or ten.

But, in the long run, entrepreneurs need to be building healthy companies. I meet with lots of incredibly smart and hard working entrepreneurs, and I am often surprised by how little thought they’ve given to the development of their company. We usually discuss pitch decks, market, competitors and customer acquisition/conversion – but there is not a lot of talk about how the company is organized or their plans to “build.” Staffing conversations are usually about developers, sales staff or marketers – almost never about COO’s or CFO’s. Even among themselves, founders often have not clearly defined their roles and responsibilities, leaving gaps that will cause problems as the company grows.

So, the next time we meet, don’t be surprised if I ask you about your company and how you plan to build it.

One thought on “Are you building a product or a company?

  1. Kristin, this is a really valuable insight. I think part of the issue is that so many startups are founded by very young people. Not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉 But if you’ve had very little work history yourself, you likely don’t actually understand the complexities involved in managing and growing a business. COOs and CFOs aren’t just for big public companies; every company needs an expert in operational efficiency, and every company needs an expert in keeping the company’s finances healthy. Even the most “awesome” startup founder simply can’t excel at every one of these roles, in addition to the million other hats we have to wear on a daily basis.
    As for myself, I previously built a successful company and I’ve been down the road of the dreaded quarterly tax filings, dealing with warehouse space requirements, benefits, and the whole lot. I know what I’m up against, so I’ve given tons of thought to how & how soon I can bring in people to manage those organizational growth challenges.
    My startup is still quite early stage (not even a year) and we are not ready or well-funded enough yet, but I have a plan. And: I’m always out there looking for the perfect operator or finance whiz who understands and is passionate about our business and would be a great future addition to the team. ABR. Always be recruiting.

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