From the top · 5 November 2015

James Caan’s seven-day startup guide: Day four Building the right team

Starting out,  James Caan realised he was better in some areas than others
Starting out, James Caan realised he was better in some areas than others
People always ask me: James, how do I scale my business? What’s the big secret . The truth is, there is no secret. That’s why Ive devised this series of columns, to share with you the steps that help enable success.

This may not lead to a Eureka! moment, but it does mean you have a better understanding of what to expect and how to deal with inevitable struggles and setbacks.

Like most other things in business, it all comes down to people the people you surround yourself with and how strong your management team is.

When a business starts to grow, as do its functions, and in order to facilitate this growth you need to invest in people who share your passion, believe in the business and have a certain skill which will greatly help you. When you’re at this stage youll find there’s too much work for just one person. You can no longer be the head of finance, marketing, talent and HR, because a basic understanding of these processes just doesnt cut the mustard when you’re up against fierce competition.

As entrepreneurs, we always want to be involved in every aspect of our business because it’s our pride and joy and were all incredibly independent but when you’re building a business you can’t just rely on your personal strengths and passions. People are the engine of your business without every component in place, it just doesnt work.

We can’t be great at everything and there are many aspects of business that may baffle you. For example, when I was starting my first recruitment business I knew that talent attraction was my forte. Finance management, on the other hand, definitely wasnt. I had no clue how to manage the finances of a business effectively how to pay staff, invoice clients or manage cash flow so I needed to bring someone in who had the expertise to fulfil these duties far better than I ever could.

This is when I needed to maximise the strengths of other people and build my “A-team”.

For example, if you’re looking to expand your client base abroad yet have no prior experience in markets overseas, how would you plan on executing the strategy? Youd be completely out of your depth if you were to take on this project alone because you’re not in your comfort zone; you’re not an expert. That’s why you bring in someone who can point you in the right direction and tell you what’s needed to get from A to B.

As an investor, whenever I am looking to invest in a business the most important attribute is an efficient and productive management team. If Im investing in your business, that means I see enough passion and determination in your team and trust you to run and scale the business with my funds. If you can’t illustrate a strong management team, there’s no way I would invest.



Renowned investor and business builder James Caan is currently the founder and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, a firm specialising in buyouts, venture capital, turnarounds and real estate investments. Prior to that, he was one of the longest-running investors on BBC television show Dragons? Den, founded and exited recruitment business Alexander Mann and was the chairman of the government's Start Up Loans initiative. His efforts were recognised when he was awarded a CBE for services to entrepreneurship and charitable services through the James Caan Foundation.