When venturing out on your own business path, it’s important to bring the right people along – not only for the sake of the business’ success, but also for investment purposes. Investors want to know how well your business is run, and if the right people are in the right positions to keep the success of the business trending upward year over year.
But what positions should you hire, and who should you look for? Let’s take a deep-dive into the four key positions for a startup, and the characteristics needed to fill these roles.
You need an operations pioneer.
It’s not uncommon for founders to take on the operations role. But whoever does it needs to be great at wearing many hats to keep the foundational components of business in check. From finances and employee management, to inventory and business relationships, the operations lead should understand all components in business as they will be tied up in many aspects. Someone who is a go-getter, comfortable with getting their hands dirty, and has a can-do attitude is great for this role. This person should be strongly invested in the success of your business.
A marketing guru.
Your marketing person will help bring your brand to life. Just like the operations lead, the marketing guru should have a firm understanding of all things marketing – we’re talking communications, PR, design, budget management, events, branding, and more. This person will be responsible for publicly executing on the company’s mission, values, and goals, and capturing your target audience. This person should be well-rounded in business management, marketing tactics, have a can-do attitude, and be very creative – aka, they should know how to make a dollar out of 15 cents.
The salesperson that can get things done.
Your salesperson or team is who will help monetize the hard work your company has generated. This person should know how to generate interest in your products or services, especially if you’re still in the stages of targeting your audience. If your business is more B2B, your sales lead needs to know how to generate and nurture business relationships. This person thrives off of smashing goals – like quarterly targets, doesn’t need much direction to get their work done, and is a people person – they need to be able to speak and capture the interest of different audiences and most importantly, be able to close deals!
A product manager.
This lead will own and perfect your product. Product managers also speak on behalf of your customers – they listen well to what the customers want and work back with business partners to conceptualize those desires. Product people tend to be very passionate and are customer advocates. They should demonstrate a strong understanding of the product (aka, own its functionality and abilities) and be able to perfect it through identifying areas of opportunity.
Who you hire in the initial stages of your company will set the tone for culture and pace in terms of reaching the company’s goals. Your team’s performance and capabilities will also capture the attention of your potential investors. Hit the ground running with these key roles filled on your team, and you’ll certainly be able to see strong returns on your investment. Good luck!
At Valley Growth Ventures we would like to congratulate you and your risk-taking effort! You’ve established a startup – you probably have an amazing product or service that can greatly impact your customers’ lives. While startups can be exciting, they can also be challenging to gain traction and get in front of the right audience. There are many details to consider to kickstart, and more than likely, you’re working with a smaller budget that is stretched thin. Now’s the time to utilize your resources and really create impactful work to get your business in front of the people you’re wanting to reach. Unsure of where to start? Here are four solid Valley Growth Ventures tips to help you get started and gain visibility with your perspective audience.
Create a marketing strategy
Simply put, marketing strategies are key in gaining and retaining clients and customers. They can help you grow your brand, and reach your audience using real data and analytics. Marketing strategies also help you gain long-term competitive advantage in your industry. HubSpot offers a great guide to help you get started. Review your marketing calendar and revise it appropriately to meet your needs.
Set a clear, strategic roadmap
Strategic roadmaps help you scale your business. It outlines the long-term vision of your company, and without it, you’ll quickly realize the goals you’ve set are for short-term success. According to authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan who wrote The Balanced Scorecard, “90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.” It’s not only important to create your strategy; its highly critical that you’re also prepared to execute your strategy as well.
Create an intriguing brand presence
Develop an attractive brand to gain your perspective audience’s attention. Share content across your digital platforms that resonates well with your audience and also represents your expertise. Make sure your brand is an appealing representation of your business. Your digital assets, such as your website, should be a direct correlation to what your brand represents.
Encourage your employees to be brand ambassadors
Your employees are your biggest brand advocates. More importantly, they’re what makes your business thrive. Creating a culture within your company that your employees adapt well to and respect, will in turn encourage employees to represent your company with pride. What are some ways to do this? Encourage positivity, diversity, inclusivity, and work/life balance. Also, creating a competitive salary structure will encourage employees to put their best feet forward!
Now, go get started and put some or all of these tips into action. After a few months, you will have enough data to measure and analyze, and you can use that information to find what works – ultimately making your business better. Without this type of visibility, you won’t be able to tweak your techniques for improvement. Make sure you have the right resources to execute – that could be people, tools, or very likely both. Take the time to assess your business and market before getting started, and then feel confident in your next steps.
As a micro venture capital firm, it’s our privilege and duty to support high-growth, early-stage companies across Ohio’s business landscape. However, we couldn’t provide industry expertise or quality resources without our committed partners, who help us push small businesses to new levels of success. But who do we partner with, exactly? We’re putting the spotlight on our 8 partners that make all the difference.
Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI)
With a strong focus on tech, minority, and women businesses, YBI provides resources to support high-potential, high-growth, emerging companies in the Youngstown area with a focus on advanced manufacturing. From equipment to networking opportunities, YBI assists in the foundational components needed to grow a successful business. Companies interested in YBI’s services can easily apply to become a part of their portfolio on their website.
Youngstown State University Research Foundation
The Youngstown State University Research Foundation provides technology support services to businesses in the surrounding area. An independent 501(c) (3) organization, the research foundation fosters engagement between Youngstown State University and business by serving as a bridge for technical and a variety of support resources and services.
Bon Secours Mercy Health, the parent company of Mercy Health – Youngstown is one of the Top 5 largest Catholic health systems in the nation and the largest health care system in the state of Ohio. Focused on extending its century-long mission of caring for the poor and underserved communities in which it operates and locally, the Mahoning Valley. With core values of compassion, excellence, human dignity, justice, the sacredness of life, and service at the forefront of their services, the health care system uses state-of-the-art technology and the compassion its associates to serve patients with advanced access to health services with the highest-quality available throughout its locations worldwide.
Ohio Third Frontier
A thriving community of experts and entrepreneurial resources, Ohio Third Frontier strives to accelerate the growth of scalable tech start-ups across Ohio. Ohio Third Frontier offers four integral programs for entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program, Pre-Seed/Seed Plus Fund Capitalization Program, Technology Validation and Start-up Fund, and the Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship Program. Interested, potential participants can learn more.
GBS is a leading information solutions provider, partnering with some of the world’s most established brand names as well as smaller forward-thinking organizations. Across every one of their diverse product and service platforms, GBS innovates increased productivity for their customers.
BRITE Energy Innovators
BRITE focuses on small businesses in the energy technology industry in the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio. Cultivating a space with a shared resource center, business incubator, co-working space, and a testing and development lab, BRITE helps to create new business and careers in the energy and tech space and is capable of testing all energy-related devices and systems. Interested energy tech leaders can learn more.
Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA)
The Ohio Development Services Agency is a state-level agency that encourages the creation of strong communities and jobs through statewide programs and services. ODSA ensures the success of their programs through accountability and transparency of taxpayer money and exceptional customer service.
Valley Economic Development Partners
The Valley Economic Development Partners is comprised of public and private entities and helps businesses grow, create, and retain jobs. VEDP offers expertise to local businesses across and surrounding Ohio for economic development and growth.
At VGV, we are honored to provide our portfolio companies with relationships and diverse expertise. Pairing our efforts with our partners allows us to go the extra mile and increase the value add when working with our portfolio companies.