Upskilling Challenge for Founders in the 2020s

Upskilling Challenge for Founders in the 2020s

Most of my clients are founders new to the CPG space, regardless of their dominant sales channel (DTC or brick). Most high-growth companies raise money from investors at some point to keep growing quickly. 

And once you have a board that has a vote on what you do, you now have to perform at a higher level. Most importantly, you need to know more about your category, business performance, and consumer base than they do. 

Even if you don’t have a board, Phases 3 and 4 are when incompetence at market analysis, consumer insights, and scanner data can bite you hard. 

The way both kinds of founders succeed is to upskill into the ranks of brand manager without the horrendously political/ass-saving behavior found at BigCo. 

Some may tell you, hey, hire the people who know this stuff. Hire a P&G alum. First of all, good luck because everyone else is trying to do that, and there are only so many BigCo alums floating around willing to be second fiddle to an amateur founder (with or without cash). 

But, here’s a piece of wisdom I learned from an old boss: always gain an intermediate level of understanding in a functional area you are about to hire in because otherwise, you won’t know if they are bullsh*tting in the interviews or on the job. 

New Founders have considerable analytical skills gaps to fill. And most amateur founders, though smart and hard-working, discover this way too late. And, until recently, no one was willing to help them except an overpriced job candidate. Your head of sales and marketing has little incentive to train you intensively on the analysis they should be doing because it only improves your ability to evaluate them harder. Hiding behind your ignorance is a major attraction of mediocre people to startups in all industries. You need to know just enough to filter for the high performers. High performers submit their performance to analysis.

Here are questions you can ask yourself to perceive the gap I’m talking about:

  • Do you know the difference between velocity metrics for supply chain planning vs. those you need to understand demand?
  • Do you know the consumption frequency profile of your category and your brand and why you should have these two very simple charts? 
  • Do you know the components of a persuasive marketing message before you spend a lot of money with agencies?

These are just three of probably hundreds of questions my on-demand courses help answer. 

I believe I’m the first to try to solve the founder’s upskilling challenge with on-demand courses specifically designed for individuals new to the CPG industry. Most of the online courses (e.g., Section 4) are designed for professionals at Big Companies who have different challenges and are mainly trying to defend market share, not grow a brand from scratch. 

I adapted this course material to the realities of growing a new brand exponentially as an under-capitalized entrepreneur. I don’t tell you to use expensive research firms, for example, when you don’t need to in the 2020s. 

Fun fact: I use these courses to help train some of my clients as I work with them. If you speak Greek, make sure your client learns it too! 

To help folks this holiday season (which is also course-taking peak season), I’ve bundled all my courses together at an 11% built-in discount. Just in time for your 2023 budgeting! So, please take a look. You can view individual course trailers on my website.

Dr. James Richardson

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