I recently dropped by MSNBC to answer business questions from entrepreneurs alongside S3 Agency CEO Denise Blasevick. We answered a question about how a clergyman could market himself tactfully and another question regarding how to focus on a core business while also focusing on expansion and other lines of business with more growth opportunities.
You can watch the MSNBC clip above to hear our advice on both of these subjects, but I wanted to focus on the first question from the clip — how do you build a management team, especially if you’re new to management? This is a major concern most first-time founders have as they navigate venture rounds and learn how to hire and fire employees. Bad or incoherent teams are the top reason I see early-stage startups crumble, so the concern is warranted.
Blasevick’s advice was to make sure you hire the right person the first time, because a startup can’t afford to make a big mistake on a top hire. She specifically pointed out Topgrading, a unique and more rigorous system for hiring, as a tool to help find people who will be truly passionate about the company.
My advice was just as simple to understand but hard to implement: you have to hire people who are smarter than you. Just as important, you have to be able to check your ego at the door.
You are not supposed to be the smartest person in the room. If you are, you’re doing a bad job recruiting. You may think you are a product guru, but there is somebody at Google with double your experience. Nobody wants to follow a micromanager, and if you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t have time to micro-manage anyway.
If you’re not experienced as a manager, learn through osmosis. Surround yourself with the smartest people possible. It may be intimidating at first, but they joined your cause for a reason. As long as you set the vision and learn how to hire the right people,