Productize Yourself

There are so many risks you can’t account for in a startup—and in the first year especially, the entrepreneur is just trying to make sure the company doesn’t blow up above all else.  “Don’t die” is the most important thing you can accomplish in the early going.

That’s why hiring is so incredibly important.  Bad hires can crush a company, and that doesn’t just go for full time employees either.  You could easily waste tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, on consultants that don’t wind up doing productive work for the company. 

So if you’re trying to work for a startup company, or a venture capital firm, or anywhere else for that matter, having a clear value proposition, transparent costs, and firm deliverables take a lot of the risk of hiring you off the table.  Plus, gives you a clear sense of the market’s reaction to what you bring to  bear—and whether or not it is measuring up.

When I give career advice, it basically comes down to this… “Productize yourself.”

You need to help someone understand exactly what they can use you, the product, for.  What do you specifically do and how will we measure your performance.  A lot of times, first time entrepreneurs may not know exactly what types of people need to get hired in each situation—so explaining to someone exactly how they should approach hiring for this position, what risks there are, different options, and how hiring you fits in, the easier you can make it. 

There are too many startup newbies and consultants as well who just have basic amorphous skills like “marketing” and “business development”.  That doesn’t say exactly what you can do for me—but if you constantly talk about testing customer acquisition across different channels and you tell someone what to expect in three months related to a customer acquistion plan, you’ve won half the battle.  You’ve effetively communicated to someone you want to work with why they need to look for someone with your skills—and look, there you are, ripe for the hiring.

Consultants need to work on presenting more clear, upfront “packages”.  Tell everyone upfront that for 10k here’s the PR plan you’ll get—as evidenced by, if nothing else, the great PR we do for ourselves.