helping small teams in product management



Cross Functional Teams

Have you watched the movie, 300 by Zack Snyder? The premise of the movie is about how an army of 300 soldiers, led by King Leonardus, tried to defend their kingdom against an army of millions. It's a great watch, of strategy, execution, and will.
Now, imagine instead of his army of 300, which already was quite small, he would have fought the war alone. It would be called a man hunt and not a war in that case. He won't have been able to sustain for long.
At your first startup, you are King Leonardus. There is no doubt you are extremely skilled at your job. You are the rockstar of your startup. But still, you won't be able to build something big without your team. Because there are just too many things to take care of. The team is one of the most important aspects of how a company will grow and build. Had Sundar Pichai not been hired by Google as a Product Manager, Google Chrome might not have seen the day of light and Google would be a search engine, forced to distribute revenues to web browsers to show ads. As per a report by Forbes, a team of 6 members is big enough to build and release the first version of the product. A frontend developer, backend developer, UI/UX designer, Marketing head, Sales Head and you(Founder/Manager). The advantage of small teams is that it's easier to communicate. More time is invoked at work and less time in a meeting. I am not suggesting that meetings are a time kill. But in the early stages, when you are building your product, there is a lot of responsibility on a small group of people who need time. If you look at the companies at Y Combinator, the most recent selected startups are often small, with < 10 members. Over-hiring and under-hiring can be detrimental to your startup. To gauge what you need, you need to make sure there is one person for each job. You have one good frontend developer, who is responsible for coding the designs and converting them into a functional app. The designer should only design. All things design.
Having one person for each job helps those individuals to have extreme clarity on what their role is and gauge the impact of their work in real life.
This type of setup is called a cross-functional team. If you can get this build if you have been able to hire the right folks from the above 5 profiles, you have built a strong arsenal of weapons for yourself that will be with you at your startup. A question comes in often, how can I hire someone if I don't have any money. Many times, first-time founders have this dilemma and end up not hiring and doing most of the tasks themselves for the same money. A lot of people I know did this and it took them longer to achieve success than it would have been. The first hire of your startup would be the folks who believe in your vision. And they would need to be rewarded with ESOPs. As a founder, you must sit with the team together, and make people feel valued and included. Often, the salary component of the team is skewed toward ESOPs initially. With time, the skewness is balanced out. But yes, you would need to shell out some of your money for the team. That is the truth. If you can convince your friends to work pro bono, nothing like it. But often we have seen pro bono might not always work when someone is working full time. You need to be smart with money, as to onboarding the correct resources, at the correct time. For example, you won't be needing a UI/UX designer if you are still in the idea stage or doing product and user research. But please don't be too smart that it borders on being a miser. Remember you are out there to build a million or a billion dollar company. Next Blog: What to expect when you startup

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