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Resource Review: People

The first step to establish a strong market foundation is to take a close look at how your people, processes and technology are aligned to support market versus product development.

Remember, the objective of market development is to first find the truth about how your product fits into the market, if at all. So, remove the word scale from your vocabulary (for now).

Market development is not about the revenue you earn, it’s about the insights you learn.

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Human Resources

In this post, we’re going to cover people. In the subsequent two posts we’ll cover marketing and sales processes and your marketing and sales technology stack.

The objective of the Market Foundation phase is to create a roadmap of the people, processes and technologies necessary to create and support a functional learning organization.

Current Team

Are you and your team ready and able to do the work needed to drive market development? Defining the responsibilities for each current and future role is the foundation for everything you’ll do moving forward.

As you grow your go-to-market efforts, the resource constraints on your existing team will become more severe, requiring you to actively prioritize each person’s job responsibilities relative to both your product and market development goals.

Start by conducting a thorough (and honest) assessment of how you your team are dividing time between developing market versus developing product, and then planning accordingly based on your market development milestones.

Point your cursor over (or scroll down if mobile) to the Resources/Download section and download the Resource Review and Talent Roadmap spreadsheet now and open that file.

In the Current Team tab, you’ll be inventorying who’s responsible for the product side and who’s responsible for the market side of the business. Some people will fall on both sides of the equation.

The goal is to clearly lay out and communicate to the entire team that one or several individuals are now responsible for generating revenue within the organization.

As you add details to Column C (“Responsibilities”) consider the following:

  • What are all the different “hats” that each individual wears within the organization?
  • In any given week, what is the percentage breakdown of their time that goes into each of those responsibilities?
  • If we assume that we are successful in acquiring early customers, which of those responsibilities begin to suffer from a quality of work standpoint first?
  • Of the jobs that you are doing today, which ones will be most critical to supporting our customers or our customer acquisition efforts?

The main purpose of these questions is to get a very real and accurate sense of the amount of quantifiable time and energy your startups has as a whole to do any kind of market development.

This is the reason why we do resource review first.

By creating a market development strategy without a thorough understanding of the existing human resources that a company has today, all you’re doing is building a plan that will likely stall and waste valuable runway and, along the way, you risk setting unrealistic expectations with your team and investors.

The most important takeaway from performing resource review and doing it first is to create a market development plan that is stage relevant and bandwidth relevant so that you can maximize continuous learning while avoiding costly starts and stops with customers.

Once you have a sense of who is doing market development and what their roles are, there are some additional questions to ask each team member about what the future would look like if your go-to-market strategy took off.

Speak with your team about the following questions and add this detail to Column F (“Notes”) of your Resource Review and Talent Roadmap document:

  • What roles are you good at and enjoy doing?
  • What role or job frustrates you and would negatively impact you if it took over the lions share of your day to day work?
  • For the product team: if the market team was successful, how does bringing on more customers begin to impact your work and what number of new customers would trigger changes in your work?

Understanding the difference between what people are good at and what people are willing to do is critical to surviving the long road to revenue.

People who are good at working at startups – i.e., “stage relevant” – will perform job functions well beyond what they originally anticipated.

Again, just because they are willing to do it, does not mean they should, especially for prolonged periods of time or else you risk having them and their knowledge walk out the door.

Talent Roadmap

The other tab in the Resource Review and Talent Roadmap spreadsheet helps you define your talent roadmap. This is an important exercise now to be prepared for your market development future.

Say you set a market milestone for two proofs-of-concept in the next six months. What happens when you actually get those two? Do you have the appropriate resources to scale and ensure new customers are successful?

Use the second tab to consider and record:

  • Roles you anticipate needing (and how many of each one you’ll want)
  • Trigger events required to make those hires happen.
  • Responsibilities for each role and categorize each as product or market
  • Date you will likely need them by
  • Ideal location
  • Estimated salary
  • Job description

Avoid the common startup scenario of needing a task done “yesterday” and making a rush to hire someone. Be as specific as possible so that you can take advantage of the information and clarity you have gained.

In doing this exercise, you’ll want to keep both the product team and the market team in mind.

Often, the most overlooked trigger event for a company is not the act of selling to a new customer; rather, it’s the act of on-boarding, retaining and managing a new customer.

Prioritize the discussion of what work needs to be done post-sale.

With a well defined talent roadmap, you can build a talent pipeline well before your immediate need and de-risk the significant capital expense of a bad hire

If you follow the steps outlined in this post and use our Resource Review and Talent Roadmap spreadsheet, you’ll have a complete roadmap of the people required to create and support a functional learning organization. And remember, learning precedes revenue.

In our next post, we’ll create a similar roadmap for your processes and technologies.

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