Are you building a product or a company?

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.

The Entrepreneurial Family

Not so long ago, I would roll my eyes when my children begged to have tag sales or a lemonade stand. They wanted to raise money to buy new toys, cheats for Minecraft or, better yet, a trip to the candy store. I would offer to buy them what they wanted or tell them to use their allowance. Anything to avoid the hassle of one of these projects.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to hear Gary Vaynerchuk speak at an event hosted by 500 Startups. Since then, I’ve been following him on Twitter (@garyvee), and I have a new perspective on the kids and their desire to be entrepreneurial and raise money to fund their own hobbies. If you don’t know Gary’s books or blog, I suggest you check them out. He’s a terrific storyteller.

So what have I realized since hearing Gary speak? Children and adults alike are empowered by their ability to earn their own way. Whether it is selling gently used toys or baseball cards, opening a lemonade stand or braving it with your own new business or scaleable startup – there is something to be said about people who are willing to put themselves out there that way.

Entrepreneurship entails a great deal of rejection and, most times, failure. Learning to be resilient to those factors at a young age is an amazing opportunity. And it is terrific chance to learn how to set prices, negotiate and market a business.

So let them build those lemonade stands and help them with their ventures. Entrepreneurship is a most often a family business, so why not start young.