People… the only strategic asset you have

December 22, 2009

As an expansion stage software executive you have probably heard this before… people are the only strategic asset you have. The people build the product, sell the product, support the customer, create the marketing content for your website, run the operations for your data center and on and on. In other words it is the people who will execute your vision and strategy for the company.

Where would we be without good people or better yet the best people? Whether you have raised growth capital or are still boot strapping your operations the key to getting the best people starts with having the best management team. It is the management team that is in charge of attracting, recruiting, hiring, growing, motivating and retaining the talent that will be responsible for making your company successful today and in the future. People want to work with people they admire, they can learn from and who will support them. As an expansion stage venture capital firm with operational experience we always stress that the strength of the management team is a key indicator of the future success of the company.

As you look to 2010 now is the time to take a hard look at your management team and assess whether you really have the best people in the right roles. Remember you are betting the company’s future on the team so it pays to be honest. You may have a great manager but they may be miscast in their role or you may have another manager who has been with you from the beginning but who is now struggling as the company has expanded, or a manger that the rest of the team feels is holding them back with their performance. If you have challenges with members of your management team the sooner you resolve them the better. For both the company and the management team.

In addition as you look to 2010 it is important to think about who the next key management team hire will be. If you are growing by 50%-100% or greater you will most likely have to expand the team. Start early, define the role, network with trusted advisers, interview as many suitable candidates as possible and measure the candidates against the vision and values of your company. Take your time in hiring since adding a new management team member is one of the biggest bets you will make in the coming new year.

Taking some time to reflect on your management team’s strengths and weaknesses and on who the next key hire to the management team is an investment that will pay off for you in 2010!

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.