Money Doesn’t Buy or Guarantee Success

Huge seed rounds of investment don’t guarantee success


Investment isn’t a word that I would use when I think of Chelsea Football Club this season.

In past years, their generous benefactor Roman Abramovich has reaped the rewards of his billions, won countless trophies (a good few with Jose Mourinho at the helm), and enjoyed the kudos of the ultimate “boy’s toy” – owning a football club. When times were good, I would imagine that the huge amounts of money that he has sunk into the club must have seemed worth it.

However, this season, everything has gone horribly wrong. They welcomed back Mourinho, who won the title last year, they spent the same amount of money in the summer as they always do, but they have been languishing near the bottom of the table for most of the year. Cure the departure of probably the most successful manager in world football. For once, Abramovich’s money has not guaranteed success….

Instead, lowly Leicester has taken Chelsea’s place in the “Top 4” (thus far, at least). They don’t have much money, they don’t have many star names, but they do have a team. They have a group of players who want to play for each other and an accomplished manager, who is able to get the best out of them.

We have done some recruitment for a few high-flying start-ups over the past year, and it strikes me that there are some parallels to be drawn.

Initially, money will have a positive influence for the business of any entrepreneur. They will be able to splurge on marketing, grow their sales team and they will create a pipeline that will potentially sustain them for a few years. However, the “burn” of the investment will be ever present, and unless they create a viable and profitable business with an engaged team, they will always be one “season” (to take the football analogy) away from disaster.

You can tell the start-ups, who are on the road to profitability by the stability of their teams. Employees always know when they are onto a good thing, they are committed to the journey, and they work together as one.

On the other hand, the start-ups that are all about chasing the next investment round are far less stable work environments. They are all about the superficial chase for metrics to “impress” the next investor, rather than building a solid and cohesive team with a strategy to grow in the long-term. We specialise in the payroll & HR space, but I hear stories from my friends in the industry about such places. They get massive amounts of investment, but personnel wise, they are like a revolving door. Employees see that they are flushing the investment down the toilet, and no one wants to work at a place like that. It is almost a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Huge seed rounds of investment don’t guarantee success. It is the graft and utter commitment of every team member that will be a start-up join the ranks of established players. Well, that and a great idea to unite behind.

Success is 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration.

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