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El blog de Mikel Niño
Industria 4.0, Big Data Analytics, emprendimiento digital y nuevos modelos de negocio

Difficulties faced by entrepreneurs when building a team around an idea

I recently came across one of those "master quotes" about entrepreneurship (and business management in general) that can be easily found around the web. In this case it was an idea attributed to Steve Jobs (the veracity of this kind of authorships must be taken with a grain of salt) and it went like this: "It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do". Behind the apparent simplicity of this idea, is it really that simple? When entrepreneurs want to develop a business idea and they need to surround themselves with a capable team in order to do so, which difficulties might they encounter along this process?

One of the first difficulties will be found when trying to align the entrepreneur's vision with the team members' about the problem to explore. We can assume that when entrepreneurs start their journey they already have a solid strategic vision regarding their idea, above all when it derives from a strong motivation to solve a specific problem. Considering that, when exploring the problem with potential customers, it is tremendously difficult not to "fall in love with our idea" and to be flexible enough as to adapt yourself to the exploration process and the discovery of alternatives (always inside your focus), it is even more difficult when you have to reconcile your vision with your collaborator's or employees' (by the way, given that Steve Jobs is mentioned as the presumed author of the quote above, anyone who has at least glanced through his biography will know that he wasn't the epitome of "letting others tell him what to do").

Although we have overcome this first obstacle and identified people with both the right competences for our team and a vision aligned with ours regarding the problem to solve, we will have to offer them a compensation interesting enough as to make them leave their current jobs and join our project (remember another famous quote: "if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys"), but we must also be careful not to find ourselves in dire straits, with high structural costs that will handicap the development of our business idea while we don't have a recurring income (in fact, in this world of "solopreneurs, remote teams and mobile offices", the idea of MAD/NOMAD teams seems to be the best approach).

Besides all this, once the team is formed, day-to-day management is still a challenge in order to practice an effective leadership, above all if we surround ourselves with people capable of contributing with their own ideas and methods to accomplish different tasks. In a previous entry I mentioned Adam Grant's theses about extravert vs introvert leadership, where he proposes that introvert leadership may be the best approach to manage proactive teams, while extravert leadership tends to be ineffective in these cases. The question would be to analyze how often we find one or the other among those entrepreneurs trying to start a business and forming a team to do so (I guess extraversion is the dominant one). As someone wisely told me in a recent conversation about leadership for entrepreneurs, the main difficulty is that "in order to lead, it is necessary that you lead... and that others want to be leaded".

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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