It’s old news that the successful Lone Wolf is often a myth. What entrepreneurs need is a stellar wolf pack. Regardless of the business model, it’s worth your time and effort—not to mention resources—to outfit your venture with this type of role-based structure. More than a just a collection of friends and family, an entrepreneur’s wolf pack must include highly skilled teammates whose contributions to the organization are clearly defined and well understood by the group as a whole. Together, your pack can function like a special ops team ready to out-manuver the competition.
Without a skilled team, entrepreneurs remain solopreneurs with limited ability to grow and scale. On the other hand, entrepreneurs who build their wolf pack increase their venture’s potential to not only get off the ground but also to rise to the next level.
Consider what kind of team members your startup needs (keep in mind that these may be part- or full-time employees, or outside resources):
1| Team members with specific operational skillsets.
Most businesses will need people with skills in technology, business strategy, operations, marketing, accounting and finance, legal and human resources. Depending on your business, other skillsets may be warranted, such as public relations, research and development, graphic design, user experience or engineering. Stick to your strengths. And just because you can do something yourself doesn’t mean you should. For example, find a good bookkeeper and a talented website designer if your time is better spent wooing potential investors.
2| Team members with different thinking capabilities.
Surround yourself with intelligent, savvy, honest people. The key is finding people who think differently—not just clones to agree with your every opinion. You’ll need a mix of thinkers in your daily operations as well as on your board of advisors (or even as ad hoc mentors). These members of your wolf pack will prove beneficial as sounding boards, devil’s advocates and geniuses to benefit your fledgling enterprise.
- Strategic and long-term thinkers. You’re passionate about your million-dollar idea, and you’re knee-deep in startup mode. No wonder you need strategic and long-term perspective from others. They’ll help you prepare for five or ten years down the road, and consider business models to ensure the venture can generate sustainable profits, evolve to beat the competition and scale for growth.
- Detail-oriented thinkers. Every detail matters to these individuals, and they are superb at visualizing each and every step. They grant consistency and high quality to your organization so that your manufacturing processes, customer service or marketing campaigns shine!
- People-oriented thinkers. Cost-saving strategies can look amazing on a spreadsheet—but end up being inherently bad for people. Usually, customers or employees get the short end of the stick. Your “people person” knows when to speak up and call time-out so you can find a middle ground and avoid alienating important stakeholders.
- Outside-the-box thinkers. You’re between a rock and a hard place. Whether it’s operations or strategy or even a people problem, these thinkers up the ante on creativity to help you brainstorm a solution so wild it actually works!
- Risk-oriented thinkers. It may not be the most glamorous role, but having someone laser focused on areas of risk will be a blessing. Like a good doctor, they focus on prevention versus treatment, allowing you to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation.
Now you have some ideas about how to build a highly functional wolf pack. It doesn’t have to be an army of people, especially in your lean startup phase. Save resources by identifying talented people who fit multiple needs. For example, your finance guru can perform all the accounting functions and double as your risk-oriented thinker or human resource department! Keep your overhead and your personnel count low by using on-demand service providers, especially for the areas that aren’t part of your venture’s special sauce.
So, where do you start? Do a self-inventory. What are your strengths? What does the venture need that isn’t in your personal wheelhouse? Add those roles to your recruitment list. Are you the natural “alpha” wolf? If not, be sure to add that capability to your list of folks to recruit. Just because it’s your innovative idea doesn’t mean that you have to be the CEO.
Building your wolf pack doesn’t happen overnight. Be wary of recruiting friends and family, and don’t be afraid to enlist your mentors or professional recruiters for help. Remember, a team united is a team with strength. Get ready for your venture to become a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace.