Startups Need Fewer Visionaries and More Mechanics

Everyone claims to be an expert, but can they really help you build your business?

Joe Procopio
Marker
Published in
7 min readJul 30, 2020

--

A group of miniature builders trying to erect and pull a giant gold key.
Image: Paper Boat Creative/Stone/Getty Images

There are three types of people an entrepreneur needs to build a successful business: employees to build the company, advisers to influence the direction of the business, and investors to provide the fuel and connections.

Within each of these three groups, there are a lot of folks who will call themselves “startup experts,” but there are very few with the experience to help you build something from idea to reality and generate revenue. If I had to pick one adage that I rely on most often as a startup founder, it’s this: There is no single best practice for any aspect of building a new company. That’s why, even after 20-plus years working on a dozen startups, I don’t call myself a startup expert. Because in my mind, there is no such thing.

If you’re the idea person, don’t hire another idea person for help.

When I build something, I’m not relying on my expertise — I’m relying on my experience. It may seem like a trivial difference. It’s not.

The difference between expertise and experience

I’m not here to disparage one kind of hire, adviser, or investor over another. I’m here to tell you that as you build out your business, there will be unlimited decisions that you need to make, there will be unlimited choices for each of those decisions, and the right choice can be different for each startup.

When you need help taking your company in the right direction — whether that’s an employee to elevate the talent and gravitas of your venture, an adviser to get you from point A to point B, or an investor to open doors and wallets for you — remember that experience is about doing, and expertise is about knowing. Both are important. But the people you need by your side aren’t the ones who know everything there is to know about starting up — they’re the ones who have the experience to help you shape your company. Here’s who they are and how to engage them.

Ignore the visionary. Hire the mechanic.

--

--

Joe Procopio
Marker
Writer for

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com