Getting the right team in place at a startup is one of the most difficult parts of getting started, and should be the key job for the CEO to take on. Often startups begin with people who are friends and have the same interest, but if your skill sets are the same then you have a problem – issues are going to arise that will require different skills, and if you scale far enough a whole new set of problems will arise that you need new talent for.
There have been a lot of strategies written about for how a team should develop around a founder, but the one the strikes me as the most accurate and usable framework is EPAI, which stands for Entrepreneur, Producer, Administrator, Integrator. The structure has been around for awhile, but was popularized by Bill Gross, the prolific startup founder.
The meanings of each:
Entrepreneur – The person who comes up with the new idea of invention, who can see things coming down the road.
Producer – Actually makes things happen and executes on ideas.
Administrator – The bureaucrat who puts systems and guidelines in place.
Integrator – People person who can help the above get along
Everyone has differing levels of skills in each category. Some people are pure E’s, some are a mix of P and A – there is really every type of person out there. But an E needs a P to get to the market, an A to organize everything, and an I to make sure everyone works together and the best ideas are allowed to rise to the top.
Without a balance of all of the skills in EPAI, and company can only go so far, and will eventually begin to shrink.
The stereotypical startup is made of a group of friends, but founders should be more concerned about identifying which of the EPAI skills they have, and hiring for the missing skills.
Where on the graph is your company?