Every startup entrepreneur eventually realizes one fact: business ideas are meaningless.
This is because there are a lot of people that have ideas, but few of people can actually turn them into a sustainable and profitable business. New entrepreneurs think they have to protect their idea, but I rarely sign confidentiality agreements when reading just a business plan because ideas are the easy part. It’s the execution of these ideas that is difficult. The secret sauce in every company is the skills of the team that turn that idea into actions.
Here are the seven people you will need to turn your business idea into a successful company.
1. The Sales Person
Nothing happens in a business unless someone buys its product or service. You don’t need any of the other employees if you don’t have customer sales because there will be no business. If you, as the founder, can’t drive the sales process and win new customers early on, you will need to find another person or channel partner that can.
Sales almost never grow during startup without founder involvement, so be careful with exclusively outsourcing sales to another individual or a company. With customer revenue, the company will have less dependence on other outside funding sources, such as “The Relative” or “The Banker.”
2. The Lawyer
Many founders skirt the legal requirements of setting up a business. This will always come back to bite them, especially when they are successful. Legally set up a corporation for your new company and complete any necessary legal forms for your city and state.
Sign partnership and vendor documents that will protect your company in the future. It’s critical to sign these agreements now when there is a lot less at stake than when the financial value has already been realized. Good documents set reasonable expectations and actually make the company run smoother.
3. The Accountant
One of the biggest mistakes that founders make is not to set up their financial statements in advance. Open up the necessary bank and merchant accounts and keep them separate from your personal ones. Pick software that can easily collect the revenue and pay the expenses for your type of business.
Get help in setting up and understanding the chart of accounts and the other financial statements that will be needed to track the company monthly. Work with your accountant to understand all of this from the very beginning and review the key numbers monthly.
4. The Mentor
Someone needs to give you honest and unbiased advice. Your mentor will not be any of your employees. Many founders get so caught up in running their business, they lose an outside perspective.
When surveyed, owners consistently state that their mentor is one person they can’t be without. Choose someone that has complementary skills to your own and has had success in a similar industry. For startups, it’s important that this person has founded several companies themselves, since this experience is impossible to replicate.
5. The Family
A founder needs to have a supportive family. They have to be there to celebrate the successes and soothe the failures. In turn, the founder needs to be understanding to their spouse and family because it is a difficult job filled with ups and downs along with financial instability. Make sure that you have the cooperation of your family before jumping into the startup.
6. The Co-Founder
Many small business owners have a higher chance of success if they have a partner that has complementary skills. Make sure, however, that there is a written buy-sell agreement that determines what happens in the event the partners want to separate or if the company is sold.
Each founder should have defined areas of responsibility that do not initially overlap. Good communication skills between partners are critical to your business’ success.
Unfortunately, there is no one riding in on a horse as a white knight to save you or your company. As 19th-century poet Sarah Bolton said “If you are to succeed, you must paddle your own canoe.”
As the leader, you set the strategic direction and culture, and are responsible for whatever develops from them. The ultimate success of your company resides in your actions, as well as those of the team that you hire to run the business.
No one does it alone. Assess your strengths and weaknesses and then build a team that can provide the best support for your business.