🦄 People Are Your Company's Greatest Asset

Make sure you empower them and yourself by following these 6 simple steps.

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Good morning friends,

Welcome to Fundraisedd, the newsletter that tells you all you need to know about fundraising and startup finance.

This weekly edition will be the last before the holiday season. We will resume in the new year, on January 4th.

Today, we’ll talk about people! Early-stage startups are teams that are exploring a concept to find a scalable business model. You and your colleagues are what matter the most to prospective investors because you are the company.

Here are a few tips I’ve learnt from experience:

1. Find the Right Co-Founders

You probably don’t have all the skills required to launch, grow, and manage a company. If you do, you will not have the time to do it all anyways.

That’s why you need co-founders.

Co-founders are the soul of the company. They are as invested as you are, both economically and psychologically. What you can ask of a co-founder, you can’t ask of an employee. You need this kind of dedication around you to succeed, and you need people with whom are fully aligned.

Choose co-founders whose skills and personality that complement yours. You will be spending more time with your co-founders than with your partner, your friends or your family for the foreseeable future, make sure you love them just as much.


2. Early Employees Are Essential

Early employees will shape your company’s path as much as founders. They will bring new skills and knowledge, new experiences. As employees, they will have a different relationship with the company that will force you to evolve and mature.

At the start, hire people with the right attitude and mindset. Skills can be learnt, but the proper attitude is harder to shape. You need committed people with a vision and an ability to work independently (until you have a managerial structure in place).

Learn to incentivise and reward your early employees. They are taking a risk by joining you at the start. They are trusting you fully. This dedication should be compensated, and these people should have a portion of the future success of the company (through ESOPs and other bonuses).


3. Hire Smarter Than You

You are not competing with your employees. You’re the founder, and your objective should be to build the absolute best team in your industry.

To do this, you need people smarter than you. People who will work faster and better on the tasks you are too overworked to do properly.

As a founder, you’re the coach, not the star player.

This brings us to the next point.


4. Learn to Delegate

This is tough at first, and for understandable reasons. When you start a company with your co-founders and a few early employees, all your processes and knowledge are safely stored in your heads.

The operation is small enough that one person can “know it all”. You can do everything in your company, and therefore you have a strong opinion on how everything should run.

Remember that you don’t need to know it all, and most importantly, you don’t need to do it all. Learn to trust your employees and let them do more, let them take away responsibilities from you and grow into the stars they are (after all, you hired them!).

Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work with an employee, and that’s when tough decisions must be made.


5. Fire Fast

It is never pleasant to have to fire anyone. However, if you have good reasons to let someone go, you owe it to your company and to them to do it fast. Waiting doesn’t make it easier.

I’ve been in situations where we hesitated to fire people for months, giving them one chance after another to improve. They didn’t. We fired them, lost a few months salary and a lot of time.

Failing to act fast has multiple drawbacks:

  • It costs your company more money;

  • It reduces the motivation of their colleagues (“why do they tolerate these behaviours, why do they get so many chances,…”);

  • It impacts your psyche, makes you doubt your decisions;

  • It hurts the person you intend to fire (they can’t move on in their career, they’re not learning anything new,…).

It’s hard; it will mess with your mind sometimes. But when you’ve made a mistake hiring, you should not hesitate to fire fast. Everybody will be better for it.


6. Take Care of Yourself

Launching a company is a daunting task.

It requires lots of energy, efforts, time, dedication. It impacts friendships, your couple, your family. It is crucial that, amidst the chaos and the stress, you manage to take time for yourself and the ones you love.

Take care of yourself, rest when you can, do the things you like, spend time with your friends, your spouse, your kids.

Remember, wherever you are, you’re the boss now. You set the rules.


📚Suggested Reading

How to Create Impactful Team Slides

Pitch Deck Teardown: Fast 💳

If you like to analyse stuff and read between the lines, I’ve also started tearing down great speeches. You can read the first one here:

Great Speech Teardown: The Gettysburg Address


After a long and exhausting 2020, I wish you all a happy holiday season. Enjoy, take care, and see you in 2021!

Best

Nicolas