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Who’s your scrumhalf?

Mar 31 2011 10:14
Marc Ashton

IT'S not often that we South Africans take advice from Australians but seeing that both countries were ejected from the cricket World Cup at the same time, we can probably declare a bit of a truce - especially with a local team at the top of the Super 15 rugby log.

Earlier this week Justin Spratt, the CEO of Quirk e-marketing and a typical noisy Aussie, spoke at one of our entrepreneur functions where we discussed the importance of putting together good teams when you launch your business venture.

Justin used the analogy of a rugby scrumhalf and a flyhalf to highlight the importance of finding people who can work with you to drive your business forward.

Without getting too technical, the scrumhalf effectively connects your forwards in rugby – the guys who scrum, ruck and stand in the lineouts – with the backs.

This position has hazards in that if the forwards can’t secure the ball, the scrumhalf gets dragged into the mess and can never get his head up to free up the more creative players to score tries out wide.

The flyhalf is then the class player in the side. He or she is the creative or technical genius around whose knowledge the business is built, but who needs the generalist around to provide constant support so that they can focus on what they are good at.

I found it interesting to go around the table and ask the aspirant entrepreneurs to define their strengths or weaknesses.

The older people at the table were easily able to say “I can’t sell” or “I’m bad at detail”, whereas the younger ones couldn’t put their finger on what their strengths or weaknesses were.

This brings me to a second point I’ve picked up around building entrepreneurial teams. I saw a tweet from Pavlo Phitidis from business accelerator Aurik the other day, which I found fascinating considering how much interest there is in young entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Phitidis commented that the average age of Aurik's entrepreneurs is 42, with the oldest 74.

That took me back to a similar comment made when I interviewed the guys from Sphere Holdings a few years back: older and wiser people have made their mistakes. They have strong networks to call on, which can make all the difference in those early days of putting together a new business venture.

Often when you talk to early stage business owners and point out that they don’t have certain skills, they will promptly respond that they can’t afford to bring in other people.

Come back to those same entrepreneurs a few months later and the passion for what they are doing has died; all they can complain about is how they are drowning in admin and tasks they don’t like doing.

This labour of love you are investing in suddenly becomes something you resent.

Build your teams smartly and you will save yourself a lot of pain down the line.

businesses  |  entrepreneurs  |  rugby



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