Polaris Venture Partners' Mike Hirshland wrote a great post entitled, How to Kill a Startup: Hire Executives instead of Entrepreneurs. After investing in companies like Automattic and Quantcast Hirshland believes that companies go through a distinct life cycle and often the right people for the job change over time.The most important component of a startup is the team. Not only do you need to hire the right people for the job, you also have to hire them at the right time.
Says Hirshland, "One of the hardest things about building a startup organization is that a successful startup is effectively 2 or 3 radically different companies between founding and achieving substantial commercial value. And the people who will be great at one of those different stages often will be pretty lousy at the other stages."
Hirshland goes on to talk about VC's pressuring founders into taking on senior executive at the wrong phase of the business. He believes that early-stage startups must be led by entrepreneurial (and flexible) individuals while later stage companies should be run by executives who understand how to scale and build better infrastructure.
We've seen our fair share of founders pushed out of companies to make way for more seasoned executives. While it's tough for boards to make those decisions, in some cases the transition of leadership is the right thing to do to build a better company. While Hirshland applies his post to senior executive, the same mentality can also be applied to other members of staff. How do you know if you've got the right staff for the right time? If you've got a marketing director pitching an unfinished site, a Biz Dev guy without a business plan or a new VP of engineering whose 2 employees keep hiding his index cards, then you've probably jumped the gun.
For more from Hirshland check out his blog at vcmike.wordpress.com.
Photo Credit: Chris Metcalf