We are connectors. 

If you’ve met any member of our team, you’ve likely experienced it firsthand. Once we understand a little about who you are and what you do, we want to introduce you to people who can take you and your business even further. 

We do that because we know firsthand that people are the key to success as an entrepreneur. You may be an innovator, a big thinker, a genius. But you’re still just one person, and one person can only do so much. 

There’s a lot of advice floating around the Internet about entrepreneurship, and much of it is focused on the individual founder and what he or she can do to succeed. But that advice ignores the most fundamental aspect of building a business: finding the right people to help you along the way.

You need people with staying power. 

That includes you, the founder. 

Most entrepreneurs think they’re looking at a three- to four-year exit with their startups. But most of the time, it takes 10. And when virtually every week is a rollercoaster, those 10 years will probably feel more like 30. 

That’s why you need to love what you’re doing. You need to understand it will take commitment to see a return. You need to settle in for the long haul, and you need to fill your team with people who believe in you, who can endure those wide swings of the success pendulum and who will run the marathon with you. 

Trust us, they exist. You just have to find them. 

You need people who can sell. 

When you’re building something, it’s easy to focus all your energy around that process. If your entire business revolves around the technology you’re developing, you want to get it right. So you hire the right tech team. You chart out the services you will provide. You construct the systems that will underpin your organization. 

And, in the case of too many entrepreneurs, you minimize the importance of sales and marketing. 

In too many companies, we’ve seen founders struggle against competitors with inferior products but stronger market performance. While they invested the lion’s share of their resources in development, the competition had gone all in on sales and marketing. 

They had a better product. The competition had better brand awareness. And the competition was winning. 

Money’s always tight when you’re building a business, and we don’t advocate building a subpar product in favor of spending more on exposure. The key is to find a balance and to invest strategically in talented, innovative sales and marketing professionals who can get your product out into the world. 

You need a team that can handle growth at warp speed. 

There’s a lot of talent at big companies, no doubt about it. But the kind of talent that thrives at those companies may not be the kind of talent you need in the early stages of your startup. 

Case in point: At a company one of our principals helped found, they hired extremely successful, extremely expensive sales reps from big names like Oracle and SAP. They thought success at those big companies would translate into success at the startup. But when those employees started, it immediately became clear they were accustomed to having prospects delivered on a silver platter, courtesy of their inside sales teams. They were used to having a trove of marketing collateral to work with, a list of leads at the ready and pre-built presentations to use in meetings. Meanwhile, at the startup, they were being asked to create sales processes and systems from scratch. And that wasn’t the environment they needed to succeed. 

The reality of startup life left them paralyzed, and it cost that startup a lot of money. 

That example doesn’t mean you can’t ever hire someone with big company credentials, but early-stage growth is a delicate time in the life cycle of a startup. 

Your team is small, and each person on it is critical. You have to hire someone who can stand up to the challenges that will inevitably come your way. 

You need people willing to give you money. 

We’re not talking about having a venture capitalist in your back pocket. Companies at different stages need different kinds of money. And quite frankly, your chances of scoring VC or private equity money right out the gate are slim at best. 

Instead, start with people you know. That could mean tapping into family or friends — anyone who can recognize your potential and who wants to see you succeed. We’ve seen it happen time and again that those people are willing to roll the dice just for the chance to see you win. 

You need to be a person who wants to help, too. 

Too often, we see founders take help willingly — greedily, even — but rarely offer any in return. And we get it: When you’re building a business, sometimes it feels as though you have no time or help to give. 

Do it anyway. 

You will always get more out of helping others than you give, so make the time. Invest in others the way someone invested in you. 

The takeaway from all this? Never stop building your network. Have phone calls, coffees and Zoom meetings. Go to events. And listen when people tell you there’s someone you have to meet. You never know who’s waiting on the other end of that introduction.

Todd BuelowTodd Buelow
Todd’s career is anchored at the intersection of entrepreneurship, people, and digital. Todd has over 20 years of experience managing digital products and serving as a catalyst for growth. Before founding Dualboot Partners, Todd was a founding member of Elogex, Bella Tunno, Cloud Logistics, and Castle Digital Partners. 

Todd is an investor in post-revenue startups and is active in the community. He serves on the boards of Speedway Children’s Charity, American Football without Barriers, Road Recovery, and Bounce Out the Stigma. Todd lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife Michelle and daughters Riley and Ella