Five types of people you need to start a business

Human capital is key to business success

Having a team is a must to run any business successfully. This is especially true when it comes to getting a new venture off the ground. 

In a recent CB Insights report on why startups fail, not having the right team is near the top of the list.

“In the early stages of startup, there is a tendency to over-focus on financial capital, which is only natural,” said Charles Matthews, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy for the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. “There is an equal, and in some cases a greater need, however, to focus on human capital, both internal and external to the venture.”

Why it matters

While the sky’s the limit for a company with the right team members, choosing the right team can be extremely challenging. A weak link and the business can face distracting obstacles, so choosing wisely is essential to your success. 

For example, startups need to build a team that is vision and mission supportive from adding external freelance talent or contractors, to advisory board members, to bringing partners and talent on board. 

What might this look like?

Here is a list of five key skill sets and types of people that can improve your odds of success over failure at launch, early stages and beyond.

  • Expert: Often the heart and soul of the company, they are functional experts who understand the importance of what you are building. They can contribute a clear strategy for how the venture value produces something special that customers need or desire, and what improvements enhance the value proposition.
  • Numbers guru: Today more than ever, working with data and numbers is inescapable. They could be a financial expert with a strong understanding of statistics, projections and metrics to help make informed decisions. For example, a financial expert can help develop and manage strategy supportive budgets, forecast cash flow and identify cost-saving areas.
  • Analytic: Market research skills provide valuable insight on key objectives across multiple areas. Analysts can help you gather and analyze information about your industry, competitors and customers, and inform decisions about pricing, product development and marketing strategies.
  • Tech lead: Tech in all its forms is here to stay. The question becomes how do we manage it versus it managing us. A team member who can help you develop and manage your technology infrastructure is very valuable. For example, they can help you build a user-friendly website, a mobile app and create engaging social media content. They also can connect you to creative marketing materials and personnel to develop a brand identity that will stand out in the marketplace. They also can help you identify and integrate new technologies that can help your business grow. 
  • Salesperson: Sales and marketing skills are often overlooked in the early stages, but sales drive growth, which drive success. They can help you develop a sales strategy, identify new customers and close deals. For example, they can assist with how to integrate a marketing campaign to reach your target audience and generate leads.

Of course, there are many other roles that are important in starting and growing a business, but these five types of people will form the backbone of your company and provide a strong structure for success.

Featured image at top: Five people meeting with laptops. Photo by Mapbox on Unsplash

Help for entrepreneurs

Through the 1819 Innovation Hub — UC’s front door to business — the University of Cincinnati connects corporations, small businesses and startup companies to a variety of business development services. Learn how to start, run and grow your business; build prototypes; test new business ideas and more.

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