Does Your Startup Have a Lebron James?

I have always been a huge basketball fan, both NBA and college. Recently, all the talk has been about the high-profile free agents including Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and others. As I was analyzing what is going on with the NBA, I began looking at the relationship of how sports franchises views star players and how startups should view their star players. I ask myself: Why would a team pay one player the equivalent of 5 players’ combined salary? The answer is simple: Everything that the one player brings to the city (talent, merchandise sales, hope) is more than worth the price tag. The same applies with big name entrepreneurs and managers in the startup world.

Think of your management team as the star players. Do they have what it takes to attract fans (customers), franchise shareholders (investors) and corporate sponsors (partnerships)? If not, how much would a star player add to your company? If you follow startup blogs like I do, you probably read the daily articles about how executives from places such as Myspace or Yahoo left their respective companies to go to Facebook or Google. The reason this news is so important is because these star players make the difference within companies. By acquiring high-profile stars, you attract more eyes and potentially more money.

Consider this specific example: Former Facebook executive leaves to join a startup. Immediately that new startup will not only receive publicity, but they will immediately receive a level of credibility that is not measurable. Obviously, most startups can’t attract an executive from Twitter, Google, Facebook, Foursquare, <insert cool startup name here>. However, you can recruit someone with a great track record, great contacts, and new insight.

Most entrepreneurial types are probably dismissing this post as absurd, not for them, or simply not relevant. All this criticisms is fair. However, just consider what your startup would look like with a Lebron James-type executive. If you think that this may be a good fit for you, begin considering how to make it happen. If you don’t have the sales or current team to attract a star player, consider two options. Refine your pitching skills and “sell the dream” or consider waiting until your startup has the growth in place to attract such a star.

When you are ready to add that star player, be meticulous with your contact strategy. Be cordial yet bold with your campaigning initiatives. Be mindful with your salary proposition. Getting the right teammate can be a game-changer. Great teams make great products! Best of luck!

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