The Inside Table Roles

Quick Summary: There are many indirect or support functions that need to be added sooner rather than later.


Just as you need outside individuals and groups with specific domain expertise to help your company be successful, you also need some internal, not so obvious, expertise as well.  Many of the functions that are required are often ignored “for now” with all efforts focused on initial revenue.  These other resources are often thought of as “costs” that cannot be afforded now.  The reality is that ignoring adding these people to the company’s Inside Table can result in the failure of the company.

Perhaps the articles in this section should be in Volume 4, “Managing a Company” since it is focused on internal company resources – who to add to the company’s “inside” employee table.  It has been included in the Governance volume because of the close relationship between some of the functions performed “inside” the company that impacts the area of governance, mentors, and advisors.  These articles do not discuss the basic employee functions and personnel that are required for a company.  Those requirements will vary considerably from one company to the next and from one stage to the next.  Some companies will have to invest more heavily in software and hardware product development, while others need to invest more heavily in a large sales team, or others will have to focus on customer order fulfillment and customer service.

That are, however, a few roles that need to be addressed by all companies that are often missed or delayed that can have significant impacts of the success and even the survival of the company.  These roles are the focus of the “Inside Table” articles.

A common trap that entrepreneurs and new company CEOs fall into is thinking that the roles outlined in this section are important – “but not now” – when funds are tight, and the role in question does not require a fulltime, dedicated person or other positions are “more important.”  This approach is partially correct; the role may, indeed, not require a fulltime position but, should be addressed now.  These other positions are can be loosely divided into three, overlapping categories as listed below.  Four positions have been identified for each category.  A quick, knee-jerk reaction of “There is no way we can afford to hire 12 people” is not uncommon.  However, when one slows down and thinks through the consequences of not addressing the functions and expertise of these individuals, the logical conclusion will be “when” these people are added and not “if” they should be added.  At a minimum, the costs and timing of covering these functions need to be included in the company’s business plan.

  • Part-time
    • Chief Financial Officer
    • Quality Manager
    • Legal Counsel
    • Customer Prospecting
  • Outsourced
    • Information Technology
    • Marketing
    • Human Capital
    • Development
  • Fulltime (but delayed)
    • Product Manager
    • Development Director
    • System Quality Assurance Manager
    • Customer Service Director

There is no question that the categories overlap.  For example, a company could retain an independent attorney to help them on a part-time basis.  In that instance, the position would be “part-time.”  However, the function would be considered to be “outsourced” if a law firm was retained with multiple attorneys with different areas of focus available as needed.  In other cases, an internal person (fulltime) could be directing the activities of part-time or outsourced resources.  In summary, the category label is unimportant; what is important is finding a way to address the functions listed.

To the entrepreneur or young company, filling all of the seats at the Inside Table as suggested may seem to be cost prohibitive.  This approach seems to be contrary to the current in vogue recommendation of focusing all energies on the development and release of the Minimum Viable Product.  The reality is that if the market rejects the MVP, the company may have to re-start or re-focus.  However, if the MVP is successful, a quick false sense of security can occur.  Companies do not survive for very long and will never succeed unless the Inside Table is occupied by the right people, at the right time, with the right skillsets.  Develop a plan accordingly with a combination of part-time, outsourced, and full-time specialists.  Your advisors and certainly your Board of Directors will expect you to do so.


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