(I am constantly looking for people that have walked the entrepreneurship path before me to guide my path, help me navigate . I sit with them and ask for their opinion on some of the issues that I am facing  and post what I learn here)

K has built a business from scratch, in 2004, to $20M in revenues in 2012 (That’s KES 1.6B)  I have met quite a number of people that have worked for him and all have one very distinct trait; they are high achievers wherever they currently are, so when I met him, I had one question: How do you attract and build a good team? Here is what he told me:

“There are 2 types of people: Foxes and Hedgehogs. Foxes are the smart, curious people. They are the ones coming up with the new business models, with the  ideas to try out. They drive growth, always chasing the new tool, new client, new deal. Then, there are hedgehogs. They are slow and methodical, focused on doing what has been figured out by others. They are the people that keep the business going, providing the reports, turning the cogs.

Each business needs both, but more of one than the other at different times. As the business starts, you need foxes. They will figure out what the business is and what is does. But as you begin to get traction, the hedgehogs come in. They make sure that they deliver on what has been figured out.

To be successful in business, you need to be able to identify these traits early enough so as to position people properly within the organisation. If you put a hedgehog in a fox’s position, they will constantly struggle to deliver what is expected of them. If you put a fox in a hedgehog’s position, they will get bored and get sloppy.”

Of course, I wanted to know how to identify a fox or a hedgehog.

“You learn as you go along. I begun to see this as I watched my kids grow”

One thing I have learnt, from reading and talking to different entrepreneurs is that if you intend to build a good business, then your focus should be singular: Get the right people in place. In Good to Great, Jim Collins states that one of the 7 characteristics of companies that went from good to great was ‘First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.’

When you are starting a business in a field that is pretty much new to everyone around, how do you know who the people are? How do you find them?

 Do you agree with K that people fall into those two categories? Are you a fox or a hedgehog?