This article is written by Epic Presence.
Are you challenged by the people around you? They say if you are the smartest person in the room, you should leave and this is particularly true in the field of SaaS entrepreneurship. Your mentors, partners, investors and employees all bring unique insights and knowledge to the table. A smart entrepreneur listens before they lead.
As you grow your business, consider who you surround yourself with. Here are a few groups of people who are looking out for your best interests and can give you fresh skills and perspectives to overcome obstacles.
People Invested in Your Success
Start by finding people who are excited about you and invested emotionally in your SaaS company’s success. You can ask mentors for advice and join dozens of networking groups, but that doesn’t mean you will have a dedicated cheerleader on your team.
“Startups don’t come without problems, and therefore, you want someone that can overcome these challenges with you,” says Andrius Olechnovičius, lead sales mentor at Startup Wise Guys. “You also need someone who can highlight the pain points of your business and help you to solve these problems as effectively as possible.”
A quality support system will actively point out problems and ask questions about what you are doing. They will examine your decisions closely to make sure you are confident in them and that you are making well-researched choices.
“As entrepreneurs, we should never stop asking questions about ourselves or our businesses,” says Albert Costill at Due. “If there’s an inquisitive person in your inner circle, this isn’t a concern. She’s going to ask questions that provide a different angle or insight to an issue or idea. These questions can lead to a new breakthrough for you or your business.”
It’s okay to find people who disagree with you to join your advisory teams. These are the people who will challenge ideas and find weaknesses early on, making you stronger in the future.
People Who Have Worked in Similar Situations
Your startup idea might solve problems that have plagued your customers for years, but the process of launching and growing a business isn’t new. Look for a community of people who have walked in your shoes and faced similar problems.
“The best way to learn is from people who have done the thing you are trying to do,” Kieran Flanagan tells us in an interview. He is a scout at Sequoia Capital and senior vice president of marketing at HubSpot, and is speaking at SaaStock in October. “You get emotional support but also real knowledge. There is an acknowledgment that your journey is not going to be the same as their journey…but people who are doing the thing you are doing or who have done the thing you are doing are the best sources of information.”
By building or joining a network of people who have started their own SaaS companies, you can bounce ideas off of experienced founders and potentially avoid costly mistakes that could harm your business. Surround yourself with people who already made these mistakes for you.
People With Real Experience in Your Field
While other SaaS founders will be useful and can provide advice for scaling hurdles and funding challenges, you should also look for people who have worked within your field and who have experience in the departments and industries you plan to target. Some of the best founders and senior executives seek out solutions to issues that plagued them in the past.
“A lot of the founders I invest in worked in a company as a senior leader and there was a continual problem that they had and they started a company to solve that problem,” says Flanagan. “They are solving a problem they have real knowledge about because they have first-hand experience of it in some way.”
Flanagan highlights how difficult it can be to enter a field you don’t have real experience with. You might think there’s a problem that’s actually not there, or provide the wrong solution to your customers.
People You Can Trust
You don’t have to rush out and find a mentor as soon as you open your doors. You also don’t have to join countless networking groups and form large advisory teams. It’s okay to spend some time learning about different people and what motivates them. Take your time before bringing on a mentor, advisor or senior staff member because you need to place an immense amount of trust in this person.
“People, relationships, trust is so important when you start a business, particularly because oftentimes you’ll take anything for a bucket of chicken, almost,” says Richelle Nicols, founder and CEO at Nicco Global. “You’re often very desperate, so you have to be careful with who you surround yourself with because you are somewhat vulnerable to an extent, particularly early on.”
Even an advisor who means well could cause you to stray from your vision and make poor decisions for your brand. What worked for one SaaS founder might not work for another.
When you surround yourself with the right people, you will continue to feel inspired and challenged by them. They will push you forward because they want you to succeed. Sometimes you will be uncomfortable as you grow, and that’s okay. The right network can help you push boundaries and bring your business to the next level.
Our return to Dublin will bring with it many ways you can connect with likeminded people and peers in SaaS. Find out 10 ways how we’re facilitating human connections (not just meetings) at SaaStock 2022 in Dublin. Read our blog post.
Get your tickets to SaaStock 2022 in Dublin this October, to experience:
“The best SaaS conference for SaaS founders, VCs and execs in Europe. Period.” – Christoph Janz, Managing Partner, Point Nine