A picture of a Scrabble board with the word lifelong intersected by the word learning. By investing in your team you can make a cultural commitment to lifelong learning in your business.

How to act like a VC-backed startup (#6: Invest in your team)

Dave Labowitz Scale

A picture of a Scrabble board with the word lifelong intersected by the word learning. By investing in your team you can make a cultural commitment to lifelong learning in your business.

Invest in your team is the sixth part of a twelve-part series. It’s a deep look behind the scenes of the “business playbook” that makes VC-backed companies successful and how to apply these lessons to your business. 

  • If you’re looking for the introduction to the series and first article, please click here.
  • If you’re looking for other articles in the series, links are at the bottom of this article. Enjoy!

6. Invest in your team (and yourself)

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.” If you apply this quote to a business, it means investing in your team, not just yourself. Most successful people make a commitment to lifelong learning. This is a great cultural value to adopt for your business, as well. Venture capitalists understand that your team is your single greatest resource and frequently approve budgets with sizeable line items for investing in your team’s development. They know your business will likely succeed or fail based on the quality of the team you assemble! There are a lot of reasons why you should invest in your team:

Investing in your team makes them more effective

Most obviously, if you invest in expanding a team member’s skill set they’ll be that much more valuable to your organization. I’ve seen this pay huge dividends in both hard skills like teaching an engineer a new programming language or soft skills like leadership training. When you focus these resources on motivated team members you’ll get a great ROI on your investment as they’ll get progressively better at their jobs.

Investing in your team creates engagement

Professional development is one of the most requested employer benefits because most people want their occupation to be a career and not just a job. Your team will be far more engaged with your company if they feel like they’re also moving forward in their career. Learning new skills is interesting and exciting, as is putting them into practice. Teaching new skills prevents jobs from getting stale and boring.

Employee retention will improve

Just like with engagement, your team members will be more likely to stay with your company long term if they’re given the opportunity to evolve along a career path. Consider making additional training a perk for high performance. By being a bit selective with which team members you choose to invest in this will only help you: your best people will be the ones most likely to stick around. 

Investing in your team will aid in recruiting

Offering a benefit that’s popular with employees will help your recruiting efforts as it makes you more appealing as an employer. Similarly, your team members will speak more highly of your company on sites like glassdoor.com and comparably.com. In today’s competitive job market, more and more recruits are checking these sites. Having a strong brand there will make job-seekers more likely to apply and accept offers.

Don’t forget to invest in yourself

Finally, CEOs and executives at VC-backed companies frequently hire coaches and/or engage with executive peer groups. This helps them stay in a state of lifetime learning. And why shouldn’t they? Just because you’re at the top of the org chart doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep growing and evolving. In fact, you could argue that it’s most important for people with a senior level of authority to continue improving their skills as leaders. The stronger the CEO is as a leader the better they’ll be able to mentor their teams. What they learn can be multiplied 100-fold in the team. 

Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs lose sight of this. They get caught in the grind and spend all their time heads down, working in their organization. This slows down not just their personal growth but their company’s growth, as well. The money you invest in yourself can be the most valuable investment you can make as an entrepreneur. 

Finally, one thing that professional CEOs know but many founders forget is that this job won’t be your last. Something will come next. Improving your skills won’t just help you in your current role, it will set you up for more success in your future roles, as well. Even if it’s your company, someday you may decide to sell it, close it, or move on. Why not have expanded your knowledge and skills as much as you can in the meantime?

Hire a business coach!

I’ll admit to being biased, but one of the best ways to invest in your team and yourself is to hire a business coach (executive coach, leadership coach, etc. The terms are mostly interchangeable). That’s what I’m here for. 

Other articles in the VC-backed startup series are:

This series will continue next week with Part 7.