There are times that call for tough love and this is one of them. As a founder of a food and beverage brand, you have chosen a hard and rocky path. You’ll hit a lot of walls, hear a lot of “no’s” and are certain to find things moving slower than you’d hoped. It’s a natural and easy trap to blame others. But to be frank, those who blame lose and those who own the outcome win.
I see this play out far too often. A part of its cause is the nature of most early-stage teams that are constructed of full-time inexperience and fractionalized expertise. This reality requires that founders hold themselves accountable for taking the needed action. Let me explain.
I will start with full-time inexperience as it is fairly simple and self-explanatory. In most cases, the full-time folks you bring on to your team will be green. You simply can’t afford the seasoned industry professional. These team members are great for helping with the heavy lifting but, they come with some serious gaps in their skill set. You need to understand the limitations of those gaps and how they might impact their efficacy.
Those more likely to prove challenging are the fractionalized members of your team. These are your brokers, consultants, advisors, lawyers, marketing agencies and more. These are the folks who come with extensive experience, proven track records, large networks, and very developed skill sets. You need to lean into what they bring to the table and hold them accountable. But don’t forget, they’re fractionalized. This is what they do for a living. They leverage their capabilities across many brands. By nature, their energy and focus are not singular. Having them is vital but understanding the boundaries of such an arrangement is equally so.
Brokers are a great example. What they do is in their title. They broker a relationship between customer and brand. However, if it’s a customer who you really want or need you have to take action and ownership. Don’t just pin your hopes on your broker then blame them when it doesn’t happen. That’s being a victim instead of a champion. It is similar when it comes to your consumers. You must make the time to get to know them and be out with them where they find and buy your products. Data and Instagram posts won’t provide the same insight or create the same connection.
Whether it’s investors, customers, or consumers, you can’t leave it to others to make it happen for you. You own your outcome. Take action, utilize the experience, networks, and skills of your fractionalized team members but don’t cede your responsibility to them. There is no replacement for your passion, and it is ultimately up to you.
My teammate, Waven, describes it best. All of us, your fractionalized team, are like Sherpas. We do everything in our power to get you up the mountain but, we can’t climb for you. You must be willing to do the hard work of pulling yourself up, crossing the chasms, and navigating the hazards. You must train, prepare yourself mentally and risk failure. When you eventually arrive at the summit, exhausted both mentally and physically, the glory is all yours and no one owns it but you.