The business magazines are full of articles on leadership – and venture capitalists tell you they invest in people, not ideas. Does all this mean you have to learn how to be a charismatic leader in order to be a successful entrepreneur?
Outsourcing Is Your Friend
The fact is, not every individual will possess all the skills necessary to create a successful company. It’s impossible to be the accountant, marketing VP, product development manager, secretary, operations manager, etc. “Leaders” are just another type of hired resource.
While it’s glamorous to be the iconic face of your company – the person who marshals the collective human resources to get everything done – is by no means the most important role for every entrepreneur.
The hard truth is, very few people are leaders in the sense of managing people to get the most productivity out of them. You must hire those people to make your company work well. If you can hire experienced people, your company will make fewer mistakes – and that is why venture money follows experience.
What does the new entrepreneur do?
There is one role that the founding entrepreneur cannot hire, and that is the role I call the “Idea Communicator.” It’s not a leadership role, it is a persuasion role.
You developed your company based on your ideas, and you have to be able to sell those ideas. Besides selling your ideas (in the form of a product or service) to customers, you need to sell the people you will hire to get things done for you. You get them on board by communicating your vision. You hire these people to strongly believe in the promise of something greater than themselves that they’ll work for peanuts, pennies, and small amounts of stock options. If you’re confident in your vision, being the Idea Communicator should come easy. You won’t need leadership training courses to do it.
Two points to consider as the Idea Communicator
First, your raw ideas are the capital you need to build your company. Before you communicate them to the world, convert the ideas into intellectual property. Protected intellectual property consists of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
Second, when you hire partners, create a well-developed agreement between all parties so everyone is clear on their roles, rewards and risks. That agreement, drafted when everyone is euphoric, must describe what happens if the do-do hits the fan.
Being the Idea Communicator and having solid contracts with partners is the winning path to building a team that will grab the attention of investors and grow companies.