3 Competencies Needed In Any Startup (Guest Post)

Is an entrepreneur a single personality or a combination of competencies?  We’ve all heard friends and colleagues say, “oh, you can do it because you’re an entrepreneur” as if it’s a definitive personality type (or flaw!).


OOO My informed and experienced opinion is that while some personalities can handle the risk and stress of starting a business better than others (key to prevent one from quitting or going insane), “entrepreneur” is merely the noun attached to those who start a business.

To start and successfully build a business, every entrepreneur needs to personally have, or assemble a team with, 3 competencies in order to succeed: Originator, Organizer and Operator.  In short:

Those who imagine and create new a product or service – and the startup company.

Those who establish the team required to take product “1.0” to market while enabling and protecting the Originator as development is completed.

Those who mature the efforts of the Organizer and drive the company forward with formalized, replicable systems and process that fuel predictable growth and expansion.

I have read commentaries on these 3 competencies and have  observed diagrams, including the famous triangle, that attempt to visually interlink the 3 competencies.  My experience is that this is not the case in the real world.  Instead, the traits are typically linear across two phases in the life of a new business: Innovation and Implementation.

Originator competencies are obviously required to kickoff INNOVATION followed by Organizer competencies to assemble and manage the early team and start the go-to-market IMPLEMENTATION.  If successful, this is naturally followed by a need for Operator competencies to scale the company and grow year over year with attention given to systems, processes and detailed costs.

while some personalities can handle the risk and stress of starting a business better than others, “entrepreneur” is merely the noun attached to those who start a business.

Upon reflection, almost everyone is a hybrids of the 3 competencies – while possessing a dramatic bias toware one of the three.  For example, I am roughly 10% Originator, 65% Organizer and 25% Operator.  I fully understand and protect Originators, know how to Organize for growth and can be the early Operator that drives companies forward – but I aint gonna stick around for 20 years and a gold watch.  That’s just me.

There are also pitfalls to be avoided… Operators, particularly those who are pure-play examples, are quite different from Originators and tend to stifle creativity if partnered too early.  In the early stage, these critters need to be kept in different cages.

The key takeaway for you is this:  Know who you are and what your hybrid ‘fingerprint” looks like.  then, surround yourself with the right people at the right time in the life of your startup.  When joining a startup, know who you are and how you fit and when.

This is a guest post from ” The Biz Doc”. For more info and posts visit: http://www.tomellsworth.com/


Patrick Bet-David
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