Startup builders are special individuals, masters at moving a startup from chaos to managed growth. They’ve been there before and learned in the school of hard knocks. I think they are priceless, worth the extra effort required to find and recruit them. First timers can do a lot of damage while learning.
When startup builders arrive at your place, they expect to see a big challenge in front of them: How to quickly put chaos into constructive order – so your people soon switch from fire-fighting and instead move into the first steps of execution of a realistic plan for growth that they can visualize and manage, one that could make your fledgling startup “awesome!”
They don’t spend months studying a company before acting. The moment they arrive, I’ve found they have no hesitation: they jump in, and within minutes begin the fixing, the cleanup. Their experience gives them the confidence that they’ll know what needs to be done next.
Over ensuing months they’ll gain a wider grasp of the longer-term objective of your company and help you modify and adjust the underlying longer-term company plan.
The results can be stunningly effective. In a consumer startup that was struggling in chaos, I watched a freshly hired customer service manager step in and go to work. Two months later the CEO had her deliver her report about what she had done single-handed during her first two months after joining the fresh e-commerce business:
- Collected from various employees the scattered bunch of unanswered customer complaints (175);
- Contacted each complainant on the list, while responding hourly to fresh incoming customer issues (6 new ones per hour);
- Escalated and called on the phone half a dozen irate customers (words not printable here ~ “I’m never going to order from your company again!”) (Issues: customers who had paid but not been delivered to, or were billed twice, or were sent the wrong order, etc.).
- After two months of cleanup, four of the six most troubled customers were raving about the company’s products and had re-ordered; all 175 unanswered issues were resolved; incoming issues were being immediately engaged and if needed escalated.
- Plus, she had crafted and started to implement a plan to boost the company’s customer service up to “white glove” status.
Yes, startup builders are awesome!
In one startup I was coaching, a couple of these fix-it-minded managers quickly free up a new product completion log-jam caused by inexperienced, early stage techees. They were stuck and frustrated, unable to finally finish the first product. In a few weeks, the experienced startup builders had figured out a doable path to launch. Given a few changes and crisp decisions, the tech team returned to delivering productive results. After the product launched, everyone celebrated – with a sigh of relief.
Another time I watched a dozen managers and employees stuck in a circular firing squad seeking blame for a botched new product marketing process that had nearly killed the fledgling startup. An experienced fix-it hire stepped in and re-directed their (angry) energy and (immobile) skills. Their attitudes and the situation shifted from blame to solution. The resulting product launch (finally) earned the fix-it manager the trust of the company and boosted their confidence that the next time they would do things in a great (different) way.
BOTTOM LINE: Focus on hiring startup builders, people who are skilled at immediately fixing messes, converting chaos into managed growth. They will significantly contribute to powering your unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!