Entrepreneur's Adviser — Know Thyself

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Question: "How do I define my core competencies?"

Answer: Market timing and competition have left no time for company wanderings into areas of marginal competency or fuzzy focus — either of which can take you out of the game.

Specifically define what your business does and its customer value proposition. As a company grows, it hires talent to round out its business functions and to build on the initial product success. In the current "intellectual-capital economy," it’s all about hiring the right people with the right skills.

The Right Stuff

To define the skills needed in your people, you must have a clear understanding of your business, the talents and skills of the team that built it, and the value your company provides to the marketplace. Be critical. Your company may be weak in marketing — building channels, customer relationships, servicing customers, branding, etc. To compensate, hire to build this core competency, or contract it out if you do not have the internal skills.

Every function of the company must be reviewed in light of what makes it successful with customers and what gives it a defensible edge over competitors.

Evaluate the leadership: The founder isn’t necessarily the best person to grow the company. Be honest and seek the input of others. If you are the founder and are not comfortable with this role, consider hiring a CEO. Do what you do best, hire or outsource those things that others do best, and manage for focused outcomes.

Adviser: Kathy Long Holland is the founder of ECO-D/OMBI, an Oregon-based business development firm targeting early stage, fast-growth companies.

Submit your question via e-mail to editor@lowe.org.

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