You Need All Hands on Deck

We have to take advantage of every resource at our disposal—employees, advisors, board members, interns, friends, family or other outside resources that have offered to lend a hand. But each of these resources are operating outside the normal bounds of working relationships:

  • Employees are often working crazy hours for below-market compensation packages, for equity, or even for free on the side of their current jobs.
  • Vendors are rarely paid full freight and are often asked to make financial concessions for the promise of working with the company in the future.
  • Advisors or board members may be available only a small portion of their time and may be working for below-market compensation if they are compensated at all. Even individuals who help with raising capital, especially at early stages, may not be paid normal compensation.

The resources in an entrepreneurial venture will only be effective if you understand their situations and allocate an appropriate set of tasks to them. Everyone only sucks if you fail to put them in a position to have a positive impact on the business.

“We WILL get through this together.” 

How to Manage Them

The sooner we realize this, and understand that it is our responsibility to manage these resources by aligning their skills and time commitment with actions that serve the business, the sooner we will no longer think that everyone sucks. Try the following:

  • Understand Time Commitment and Skill Set. Understand each person’s time commitment and his/her specific set of skills and compensation arrangement.
  • Create a Regular Check-in Process. Create a process to take advantage of their limited time, bandwidth and mindshare. This takes the form of a regular meeting at intervals that are commensurate with their time commitment. For example, you might have a weekly meeting to stay on top of product development, marketing plans and the like. For others a bi-weekly meeting that addresses their roles and how they are doing against their areas may suffice.
  • Nurture. Nurture and appreciate their participation. This involves thanking them, but also clarifying that your job is to best align the company’s scare resources with its needs. Communicate that you understand that this is not their day job and that they may not be accurately compensated, but you still need their best effort on behalf of the company. Communicate your appreciation while asking for accountability.

If we don’t allocate our scarce resources, our company suffers in several ways. We fail to move forward with the tasks at hand. We create misaligned expectations that lead to frustration with the resources we have.