Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, famously said that business has two major functions: innovation and marketing. In other words, the purpose of your business is to build great products and find profitable customers. To generate meaningful and sustainable revenue, your company needs to innovate rapidly, and to market effectively. These are essential ingredients of successful startups, so the best teams are those with build/sell experience in spades. For evidence of this, look no further than the “hacker/hustler” founding teams that many seed stage investors require to invest. The hacker builds and the hustler sells. Many early investors won’t even consider you for an investment unless you have a build/sell team in place.
When establishing your initial team, or evaluating potential team members, focus on build/sell capabilities. Other skills are on the periphery, and won’t directly contribute to your startup’s success. Make sure new hires understand their roles, and then stand aside and let them execute. If you do hire someone who can build or sell, your runway will be that much longer when they start producing. If not, you’ll actually shorten your runway, making it that much harder to get off the ground.