Monday, July 31, 2006

Lesson #1: The Team : When Hitchhiking,Pick your Passengers Wisely

The first big lesson I learned in business, was beware of the passengers with you on your journey. In order to make it easy to remember, I have created stereotypes for the types of people you are bound to encounter. One of the most difficult aspects to any venture is knowing if you have a great team. (take a look at these losers on the left? Would you join their startup?)

The first type is the STONER. This one is easy to spot (most of the time), and can slow you down, and maybe even take 33% of your stuff. The Stoner is someone who has no passion or drive to create - they never bring original thought, never carry their weight, and always expect to share equally the bounties of the trip (especially the food). In my first business, one of my partners was a "STONER", and its was never a lack of intelligence, or inability to add value to the venture - it was simply his choice. One of the biggest challenges, is confronting the stoner, because they are usually very cool, and are great to work long hours with and grab a beer - but when the time comes to build the business - you will be alone. And when you sell the company - he will be first in line, motivated as hell to cash that check.

The second type is the BACKSEAT DRIVER. This is the guy who thinks your an idiot and questions every decision you make, even when you ask his opinion. Sometimes, a backseat driver is useful to have in a venture (especially if a stoner is driving). But in most cases, the person is too cowardly to lead, and the only passion he has is demonstrated when he is challenging your ideas. The best thing to do with a backseat driver is to put in the front seat and make them drive. This will either wreck the car, and humble him - or will allow him to prove to you that he can drive better than you - and then you may have found the perfect CEO (because lets face it - you are not a good CEO).

The third type is my personal favorite - the NAVIGATOR. This is the guy who is constantly looking at the map, trying to plan every mile of the journey. He is usually very anxious, nervous and anal. This is the last guy you would tell that you may not make payroll, or that you just sold a bunch of vaporware to a Fortune 500 company. I was generous with the name "Navigator" - it sounds important and very cool - because I actually think Navigators are great to have around. However, you need to make sure they have some level of entrepreneurship to handle the unexpected, and not drive you nuts answering stupid questions like "When are we going to close on the round of Investment?" and "How much money do we have in the bank?"

The fourth type is the DRIVER. This is the single most important person in the car. The Driver is making every decision on the direction of the car, including who gets picked up, and who gets kicked out. The Driver is also the one who gets blamed when the car drives off a cliff and explodes in a towering flame. There are different types of entrepreneurs - but the one type who really deserves the title - is the Driver.

As you are walking down the highway, with your thumb waving in the wind, and a rusty van pulls up aside you and honks - make sure you take a good look around at your fellow passengers before you throw everything you own in the trunk and buckle your seat belt.

1 comment:

Steven B said...

Haha... loved the read!

- Steven Burda, MBA
P.S. Happy Saturday :)