People often ask if we work with start-ups, and I usually respond “We do, but only with the savvy ones – those who recognize the importance of investing early in leadership, culture and team alignment!” Many start-ups are focused on getting their business model right, and feel they are too cash strapped to worry about leadership development at an early stage. What a shame, for it’s those very things that will make or break you.

Ask many of the successful start-up CEOs and VCs, and they will tell you how important these aspects are. Read VC Partner of CMEA and Forbes blogger, Saad Khan’s, recent quote: “I started to ask the question, if the art of investing is really about identifying great talent early, then lately I feel like I’m working at the wrong abstraction layer. Investing in financials, products, market opportunities, companies, ideas even–these are all second-order consequences of something more basic. I want to invest in the underlying asset. I want to invest in first principles. I want to invest in him (or her). I want to invest in the innate drive, talent and potential of a person.

The concept for engaging with a specialist in leadership and organizational development is to “build it right the first time” and not wait until process, culture or leadership become dysfunctional and mis-aligned. As businesses grow, the potential for organizational dysfunction grows exponentially. Every business, no matter what the industry or expertise of the leadership team, faces these challenges. Indeed, most consulting firms base their business model on trying to fix the dysfunction; as it is far more costly to address once the problem is embedded, than it is to make a series of “course corrections” along the way.

If you are a start-up, Meritage invites you to consider a different approach: Invest in organizational development now and build it right the first time, resulting in a stronger, more profitable company than most start-ups have the vision or savviness to prepare for.

We have identified 4 areas that are ripe for leadership development in a start-up:

• Solidify and Build Key Partner Relationships
• Senior Team Alignment
• Leadership Development Coaching
• Organizational Development and Communication

In our next blog, we will cover these four areas in more detail, explaining why each of them is critical to success, and provide a roadmap for incorporating leadership development as part of your strategic plan.

The exponential growth and the strength of the culture we have seen in start-ups who are savvy enough to invest in leadership development has convinced us that the work above is not just for middle market and Fortune 500 companies. If you are a start-up, we challenge you to invest in your leaders and “build it right the first time.”