Outside Expertise for Your Startup

I recently read a great post by Charlie O’Donnell on the Minimum Viable Team for startups.  He started with the core questions:

You have a million things to get done at your startup, yet you only have a handful of people to do them. How are you ever going to get it done? Who should you hire? What should be the makeup of a founding team? What is the Minimum Viable Team, if you will, for a startup?

After he worked through the core functions:

    1. Engineering
    2. Marketing
    3. Sales
    4. Business development
    5. PR
    6. Design
    7. Product Management
    8. HR
    9. Operations
    10. Finance

he arrived at a three person startup team:

    1. “Outside person”
    2. “Customer experience”
    3. “Builder”

One aspect that Charlie left out except for a brief mention of PR was that this Minimum Viable Team likely needs a lot of support from outside experts.  As a 3 person core team, you simply won’t have expertise or time to address all the core functions yourself.

What do you do?  The answer is that you need to engage outside expertise, but you need to do it in a smart way.

Technology/Engineer – I’ve talked about the need for outside CTO expertise a lot before: Startup CTO or Developer, Startup Founder Developer Gap, Part-Time CTO, Technology Advisor, CTO Founder, Acting CTO.

Finance – The same issues come up around Finance.  Are you setting things up correctly?  Are you engaging correctly with a bookkeeper?  Does your early efforts support proving out your business model?  All of this can be addressed by a Part-Time CFO.

Legal – Of course, you need legal support for corporate formation, employment agreements, etc.  You need to look outside for that.

and the list continues with HR, Marketing, PR, etc.  There are outside experts available.  And there are lots of outside experts who can help from a CEO / business coaching standpoint.  This obviously relates closely to the Startup Specialist Timeline.  We mention Interim CxO – interim CTO, interim CEO, interim CFO, interim CMO, etc.


In later posts, we will get into how you can effectively engage this kind of expertise when you are early-stage and cash constrained.

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