Note: This post first appeared on VentureBeat. Read the original post here.
What leads one company to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination while others fail miserably?
Successful companies can take off for a number of reasons. For one it was the founder, for another, early access to customers, for a third it was competitive pricing, and so on. On the other side of the table, there are companies that tackle a smart area in an emerging market, have a great team, diligently work, yet still fail miserably. Postmortem after postmortem have been written on the reasons why various startups fail (here’s a list of 101 of them) but what it really boils down to is that in order for a company to be successful at all, it needs three things, or more specifically three types of people: Finders, Minders and Grinders.
Finders: Marketing and Sales Teams
From product positioning to finding your customers, it is the job of your Finders, the marketing and sales teams, to get your product or service in front of the right people – at scale. The role of a Finder changes over time and serves very different needs in the early stages of getting you to your first few customers versus getting your next million. In the early days, founders often underplay this role, but Finders actually play a crucial role throughout the entire life of a company. They are not just salesmen or marketers but people people who know how to find customers and convert them.
Minders: Management Team
You can’t do everything alone. Founders must be able to inspire people to go through the journey together. I encourage founders to be the captain of their Minders, steering the vessel straight on course, adapting where necessary, and enabling them to succeed. It is not beneficial for anyone to micro-manage your Minders, ruling over them with a task-list. In the early stages, the founder is usually the sole Minder, but as the company grows, this role multiplies and divides and becomes one of the most crucial parts of a company’s future success. It is the job of a founder to enable their Minders to succeed and intervene only at strategic points.
Grinders: Engineering Team
Your idea doesn’t matter without your ability to execute. That’s where Grinders come in. Without your Grinders, the company stays in ideation mode. A glaring sign that a company lacks Grinders is they have great ideation meetings but lack execution to see the ideas through. While in many cases the role of a Grinder applies to the engineering team, it also applies more broadly to the growth hacker culture of getting stuff done. Thanks to our friends at YCombinator and many others, this role has more received the appreciation it deserves.
A Message to Founders
Finders, Minders and Grinders need each other. This need is never seen more clearly than in the founder himself. As the lifeblood of the organization, the founder needs to be all three of these roles. Founders must create the vision, guide others on the path to success, and be the primary Grinder – getting it done no matter what so others follow by example.
As your company grows, many of the more painful scenarios are the ones where a founder needs to let go of playing all these roles and invite others into the responsibility so the organization can grow. This is a necessary but tough task since they are the driving force of the organization from inception.