A discussion at a local incubator suggested that a common problem for some local startup companies is that they have a problem in finding quality talent for their business. Many claimed to have money but could not find people. REALLY! The issue of talent is one of concern if you have customers that need face to face contact. In such a situation, people are needed and may need to be full time employees of the company. Depending on the type of business though, it is possible to advance a company significantly through the product development stages and beyond with few or no employees. These companies run as virtual or semi-virtual companies.
In fact, you may be able to significantly advance your startup with nothing but a checkbook and an address book. The address book may not even be yours! Having good mentors and advisors greatly increases your level of meaningful contacts. It is possible to contract talent until full time employees are needed, identified, and hired. One added advantage is that rather than have layoffs when financial problems arise; it is easier to terminate a contract. The personnel issues are greatly reduced as is the stress of terminating your friends. If you plan the sale of the company as an exit, then the acquirer can integrate the business with theirs with fewer troubles.
Larger companies commonly use contract employees to advance special projects. In fact, a Fortune 100 IT company recently hired a Concord, NC native on contract to go to India to train and implement new programs. Drug companies often hire Contract Research Organizations to assist in development of products. The process of using contract employees is not new but may be overlooked in startups when entrepreneurs are accustomed to having their own staff.
In a recent post on a social media site, Dr. Joshua Boger, former CEO and cofounder of Vertex Pharmaceutical, described his new venture and referenced the Wall Street Journal article: Virtual Biotechs: No Lab Space, Few Employees. Dr. Boger is the chairman of Alkeus Pharmaceuticals. He grew up in Concord, NC and resides in the Boston area, one of the major biotechnology hubs in the USA. Dr. Boger commented on the site:
“Alkeus Pharmaceuticals profiled in WSJ. We're in the clinic, with zero employees and no permanent office address. This wasn't possible twenty-five years ago, when Vertex was founded. Now Alkeus is a high wire version of Name-That-Tune; Can we start a potential pivotal trial for approval in Stargardt's disease (leading cause of blindness in children and adolescents in the developed world) with no employees? Don't bet against us....”
Being more agile in one’s thinking means finding and implementing alternatives that work best given your situation. It also means learning to alter or completely eliminate practices you routinely use when a given situation requires doing so. Alkeus Pharmaceuticals has NO (that is ZERO) employees and advanced their product along the development path. Now that is being AGILE! Can you find ways to be more agile in your company?
More is available via the book Think Agile. Follow Taffy Williams on Twitter by @twilli2861 or contact him by email with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. The company contact info may be found in the website, and more on Startups is contained in his personal blog.