I’ve had a lot of clients in my career. I’ve helped businesses at nearly every stage – from startups to global multi-million CPG companies. I’ve seen small teams deliver big, I’ve seen big teams deliver small. I’ve seen teams grow drastically in size as a result of success and I’ve seen teams grow drastically in size in anticipation of a success that never comes.
Through it all, one thing stands out to me as particularly needed for businesses at a certain early-ish stage: a need for a swiss army knife. A need for a single person who can come in and wear a lot of hats, guiding the business where it needs to go until it’s time to start taking off those hats one by one and hiring for those specific roles. I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs get caught up in hiring a team of specialists too early on and they worry about the cumulative costs of those fees while never quite getting the big-picture, global-view and also hands-on execution and direction they need first. All in one person.
You could hire a marketing specialist and a social specialist and a funnel specialist and a strategist and an e-commerce expert and a branding expert and a sales expert and a customer service expert. And I hope that you do, over time. Experts are great and in order to truly grow your business, you need a team of the exact right experts deployed on the exact challenges your specific business faces.
It’s tempting to build a team without quite knowing what you need first, second and third. But I challenge you to really consider your skills and strengths – where are you strongest? what can you entirely take the lead on in your business in a way that no one (not even a specialist!) could do better than you? – and your weaknesses. Is accounting your thing or not? Is marketing your thing or not? Do you know what you want from your sales team and how to get it out of them? Is networking a pain point but your business needs key new contacts to grow? Are you clear on your product, your offers, your prices and how they sit in context to the rest of the market? What are your goals? How are you going to get there? Are your financials in order? If so, what capital or recurring sales are needed to get you to the next goal, the next hire, the next big account?
Amazing female founders the world over: before you hire specialists, hire someone who can do a lot of different things extremely well. Hire someone who specializes in being exactly what you need across all the parts of your business and that complements your strengths and weaknesses. Hire a swiss army knife who has just the right tools and can deploy them in just the right way to get you to the next level.
I have been lucky enough to be a swiss army knife for a range of companies and it has been my most rewarding work. Handing off those hats one at a time (welcome to the team, new Growth Manager; lovely to have you on board, Head of Sales; thrilled you’re here, Customer Care Manager!) is so rewarding for me because I know it means that I’ve gotten my clients to a place where they are able to hire specialists and hire them at the right time with confidence that they are ready. Those are my favorite interviews!
If you are in need of a swiss army knife for your business, let me know. Let’s have a chat about your business, what’s needed and how I can help you build the company of your dreams.