Author: Matt Jones, CEO
In my last post, I used Jim Collins’ analogy that building a company is like driving a bus: it must have the right people on board, it must be steered in the direction of success, and it must have enough fuel in the tank to get there. E8 Security is in growth mode. We introduced our product a year-and-a-half ago, we have had some very exciting customer wins, and we closed our Series B round of funding in October 2016.
Our bus is clearly heading in the right direction and we have the fuel to get there. Now, we are doubling down on our efforts so we can take advantage of the massive market opportunity that is right in front of us, and it is going to take people — the right people — to execute on this.
Why is building the right team so important?
First, the ability to scale is usually not a product or service issue, it is a team issue. People, not just working next to each other in the same building, but collaborating and collectively executing on goals, accelerate a company’s success. If we don’t have the right people in place, we won’t be able to scale.
A company’s senior leadership — the people I hire — are responsible for fitting the product to the right market, putting processes in place, taking calculated risks and making the right tradeoffs, and in turn building their own teams to bring about more wins at that exponential rate coveted by all startups.
So, what do I look for when building E8’s team?
I have six basic requirements.
- I look for people who believe in the mission of the company. Building a startup is hard work. You need leaders who understand and believe in both the product and the company. This belief injects a high level of energy into everything leaders do and keeps them enthusiastic and motivated through the good and bad times. And believe me, there will be bad times. People who truly believe in the vision and mission will carry the company through hardship and get it to the other side.
- I look for people who can work together. Building a company is a team sport. Good teams understand and accept that each member brings different talents and skills. They embrace diversity in their thinking, which allows the team to adapt to a changing landscape, fail and recover quickly, and succeed more often than not.
- I look for honesty. Teams must be open and honest with one another about what is working and what is not, and everyone must be able to deal with the truth. Teams that trust each other will do what is good for the company because, ultimately, it’s what is good for them. You cannot build trust among the team without honesty.
- I look for people who commit. True commitment allows the team to move forward despite obstacles and inconveniences. Commitment comes from belief in the company’s mission, and understanding what role each member plays as part of accomplishing that mission.
- I look for focused optimism. Successful teams don’t lose focus on the long-term goals. The balance must be kept between productivity and playfulness. Staying positive keeps the team directed toward solving problems, and allows teams to pivot quickly when something goes wrong.
- I look for scalability. I need people who can do the job now and do the job two to three years from now, as the role morphs to adapt to changing business needs. Those who think beyond a twelve-month horizon are the leaders that can grow as the company grows, and who will allow the teams they lead to grow, as well.
A team of people who exemplify these six tenets will ensure that we can execute on our goals and drive E8 Security forward toward success. The opportunity is right there in front of us, and it is ours to lose. However, because I’ve built a team committed to our company mission, who works well together, and who are focused, honest, and can grow with the company, I’m confident we will achieve what we set out to accomplish.