MVT_teams

The lone genius. The gifted inventor. The brilliant recluse. We love the idea of the individual creating something new and amazing. But for every Steve Jobs or Oprah, there’s a team of people around them often doing less visible, but very important work.

The same will hold true for you and your business. You need a minimum viable team to help make your idea a reality. You may not need to fill all of these roles at the beginning, but it helps to understand how they support your Startup Equation.

  • The Marketer: When we think of great teams, we immediately identify the person who takes the role of lead evangelist, excels at communicating, and knows how to engage customers.
  • The Technical Engineer or the Hacker: Many startups have a technical founder/co-founder and this person will often take the lead on development.
  • The Biz Developer or Hustler: A charismatic personality, this person closes deals by getting people to commit their money and attention to the startup.
  • The Domain Expert: Success requires experience and knowledge of the industry. This knowledge goes beyond technical skill.
  • The Creative or The Designer: This co-founder has the vision to translate the vision into wireframes and brings a much-needed design perspective to building and launching a product/service.

To start building your team, you need to figure out which role you’ll fill on the team. Maybe you’ll start as a solo founder or you’ll decide to work with a co-founder(s). Whatever your path, you need to understand your strengths so you can fill in the other gaps on the team.

Ask yourself:

  1. What skills do I bring to the table?
  2. Within those skills, what do I prefer to do?
  3. Do you have the technical background to build your product or service?
  4. Do you know the industry that you’re starting this company in?
  5. Which area of the team mix do you have the least amount of experience in?

Obviously, you may end up wearing more than one hat. However, knowing the answers to these questions will help you identify the others members you’ll need on your team. To help answer these questions efficiently, I encourage existing teams complete a “Like Doing/Good At” matrix.

On the X-axis, label the right side “Good At” and the left side “Not Good At.” Then, on your Y-axis, label the top “Like Doing” and the bottom “Not Like Doing.” Go through each question and plot your answer on the matrix. Have each person do this on a whiteboard or piece of paper to capture the results so you can compare and contrast.

You will learn a lot about your team and see what everyone likes doing and clarify where responsibilities need to be shared. But most importantly you can identify the critical gaps on your team, and you can begin building your minimum viable team (MVT).

MVT is a concept created by research Frank Nouyrigat and Marc Nager. Their goal was to help founders figure out the minimal team required to start and group a company. But before you start reaching out to people (maybe you need a Biz Developer or a Marketer), keep these questions in mind:

  1. What do you think the initial size of the team should be?
  2. Review the types of team members you need to balance out your skills and background.
  3. Decide if this is going to be a solo or co-founder(s) structure.
  4. Draw different organizational charts for the following milestones:
    1. Decide who needs to be on board to build the initial concept
    2. Decide who needs to be there for the launch
    3. Decide who needs to be there for the initial growth phase

Now that you know yourself and have a sense of who you need on your team, you can starting “dating.” It will take some time to find the best team members, but understanding who needs to be on your MVT and why you need them is a valuable addition to your Startup Equation.

This post originally appeared at LinkedIn on February 18, 2016.