The 4 Roles That Every Startup Needs

The 4 Roles That Every Startup Needs

“As you start out on your way, your way appears.” – Rumi 

The path to a successful business startup can appear to be confusing and at times overwhelming, yet it doesn’t have to be.  

Throughout this post you will gain a deeper understanding of the skills and mindset needed to succeed in a startup, whether you are starting your own or looking to join an existing team. 

In any successful startup, there are four main roles that allow the company to function smoothly. Sales, Customer Success, Operations, and Marketing. Listed below are four role summaries, key skills for success, and advice from experts for each of these roles.

Interested in a specific role? You can easily scroll down to the section that pertains to you. However, a skill may be listed under one role type and still be beneficial for others as well. For this reason I strongly suggest taking the time to learn from all four of these areas. 

My hope is that with this greater understanding you will be better equipped to achieve your goals. In the end though, you are the one who must put this knowledge into action and start on your way. 


 Role Summary

Sales is the process of a person providing a need for another by convincing them that their product or service is worth the investment. This customer must be the right kind of prospect though. One who truly needs this product to fulfill a want, need, or personal desire. To prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this product will indeed fulfill their area of lack requires a well planned out presentation to ensure the customer that they are making the right choice.

In short, sales is the process of building relationships.

Key Skills For Success

Sales is 80% psychology and 20% strategy.

The psychology aspect incorporates the soft skills required to succeed. Soft skills are the personal skills you bring to the table by who you are as a person. These include your personality, drive, communication, and listening skills. Knowing how you as an individual function, how humans as a whole function, and how to use both of these aspects to your aid, is 80% of sales.

The second part of sales is the strategy. Planning techniques, closing tactics, and follow-up procedures which can all be gained through time and experience.

Words of Wisdom From the Experts

Nick Rundlett, a Sales professional, authentic communicator, and self-directed learner advises anyone considering this role to ask themselves,

“Do you want to be doing this?”

Anyone can benefit from the experience of being in a sales role, but the greatest key to success in sales is being self-aware. Going into this role blind will only result in you being knocked down and disappointed. Before you enter into this role you must determine that this is something you want to do and do well at. 

American author, motivational speaker, and world-renowned salesman Zig Ziglar‘s advice is to recognize that you are someone who can excel in this field. ”Then just be yourself.”

Planning techniques, closing tactics, and follow up procedures can all be gained through time and experience. However, self-image and how you go about facing a challenge as an individual is something that only you can determine and produce.

Adam Thibeault is an experienced and successful sales representative who believes in

“Put yourself out there.”

The only thing to fear is fear itself. If you allow the fear of what others will think or what might just happen keep you from trying new things, then you’ll never achieve anything in life.


Customer Success

 Role Summary

Customer success is the process of improving the experience of a customer by constantly seeking new ways to solve present and future problems.

Almost every time a customer contacts a company they will be working with a customer success agent. This interaction will determine how that customer views the company as a whole. This role holds the responsibility of preserving the image of a company. A customer that feels successful in their experience is what makes a successful company.

Key Skills For Success

In customer success, half the battle is seeing a problem before it arises. The goal of any company is to ensure that their customers are completely satisfied with their product. By discovering possible obstacles before they become a reality, a customer can enjoy their product without the need of deal with bugs and hiccups.

Words of Wisdom From the Experts

Zach Martin, a digital marketing specialist advises anyone considering this role to,

“Go in there and kick A**”

This role can open doors for many different roles and opportunities. Often this will be one of the only available positions at a company, making it ideal for getting one’s foot in the door.


 Role Summary

Operations is the internal management that allows a company to function as smoothly and effectively as possible.

There are countless tasks that must be performed for a business to function as a whole.

To name just a few

  • Planning – effective organization to reach highest productivity.

  • Scheduling – people at the right places and time.

  • Management – making sure everyone has a job and knows what to do.

  • Quality Assurance – check the product, double-check, and check it again.

Key Skills For Success

Organizing people and work atmospheres requires one to juggle multiple projects at once while finding new ways of improving the system as a whole. In a world that is constantly changing, a love for learning is the key skill that will ensure your ability to succeed. Every task can be learned and every obstacle can be overcome, but only if you are the kind of person who believes that it can.

Words of Wisdom From the Experts

Vanessa Hutton is a digital campaign manager. Her advice when considering this role is to

“Get your feet wet.”

The only way you’ll know if you like this kind of work is to try it out. Find an internship opportunity, interview some people who work in this role, and do your research. Experience is the best teacher, so just go for it.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of what goes into a job is the people you work with. Having a great team and work atmosphere can make all the difference in the world. So look around, learn what works for you, then take the dive.


 Role Summary

Marketing is the process of getting a product in front of potential customers. By use of advertising a marketer can put your product in front of the chosen market. If the advertisements are convincing and persuading, then there is an opportunity for a sale to be made. Regardless of the form in which marketing takes, visually or verbally, the end goal is to convince the customer that their life will be significantly improved if they purchase or invest in this product.

Key Skills For Success

Reaching out to the right customer is of utmost importance. The process of finding these customers requires a large amount of research. Who are they, where are they, and what is the best plan of action for reaching them? Without knowing the answers to these questions your advertisements will be a game of hit and miss, sending your companies money down the drain.

Words of Wisdom From the Experts

Yitzchak Young, an experienced and successful marketer and copywriter in growth marketing, recommends

“Understand that what you are getting into is not just promoting ideas and products. You are studying reality, people, and humanity as a whole. Understand that first”

If you go into marketing with the wrong mindset then you will become lost and confused. If you know that this is a role based on human actions and how humanity functions, then you’ll be able to go in knowing exactly what you need to look for to succeed.

Startup marketer, writer, and perpetual apprentice James Walpole‘s advice is that

“If you can do marketing in a start-up, especially one that doesn’t have a marketing department yet or not much of one, you should do so over going to a big company where your job will be specialized.”

There is a value that comes with being able to wear all the different hats in a role, especially if you want to be an entrepreneur. This will allow you to see and get to know each aspect of marketing so that you will better understand what your company will need if you start your own. It will also help you know what kind of role you would rather specialize in for the future.

In the end though, “Take on the hardest challenges you can.” The only way you can learn and improve yourself is to embrace the challenges that allow you to grow.


With a deeper understanding of these four roles, you are now better equipped to succeed in your own startup experience. Remember, regardless of what field you go into, you will need to be able to empathize with your customer’s needs, think creatively, and communicate clearly.

Now it is time for you to start down your own path and see what roads will appear.

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