Early on in startups partners tend to do almost everything together. As the company grows they have to learn to delegate and specialize, otherwise they are not optimizing their time.
But there is at least one circumstance where it’s highly beneficial to have more than one member of the startup team: key meetings, such as those with potential investors, partners or customers.
There are several benefits to having two of your team at the meeting:
- While one team member talks the other can observe the audience and see what resonates with them and where they may lost interest or get confused. I’d advise developing a signaling system to that the observer can warn the other team member if he’s losing the audience. It helps to sit next to each other, even if all you do is kick them under the table, rather than pass them a note or type something on your laptop only they can see.
- I find the bigger the company – and I’ve dealt with very large ones, including IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Ernst and You, Reed Elsevier, and many more – the more people they bring to the meeting. Though the younger the company the less the tendency to bring an army of employees to meet with a startup. So it can really help to have another team member, preferably one with complementary skills, so you can address the business questions while your partner addressed the tech questions or vice versa.
- As noted in the previous post on taking notes, one team member can take notes, while the other speaks or listens or you can trade of the note taking between you.
- If you are giving a demo or showing off a prototype one of you can be setting up the necessary equipment while the other keeps the meeting going. And again, once the presentation starts, the non-presenter should be observing the reaction of the audience.
- Finally when the meeting breaks up if there are two of you there’s a better chance of making a personal connection in the chit chat that inevitably follows a meeting.
Many people complain about meetings. And I agree there can be two many internal meetings, which can waste time and be unproductive. But you can’t have too many investors, customer or partner meetings (assuming you qualify the attendees ahead of time). You won’t always need a tag team to handle these important meetings, but it will help as you start the company and are still honing your story and your pitch.