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Skills Gap Analysis

Consider these familiar startup stories, all likely to end in failure.

Four engineers get together to create the next generation holographic training solution. The technology is amazing, and every time they meet to discuss turning it into a business, they get side-tracked talking about how things work, what the next iteration might do, how to upgrade it and so on...

Or a Phd in Chemistry founds a new company to make an amazing ingredient more cheaply than has been done before. But she’s on her own carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders – burnout is just round the corner…

But there is something you can do about this, and right from the beginning.

Whatever the nature of the Startup you are creating and however many of you are involved you need to do a Skills Gap Analysis early and regularly.

How to Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis

You get together with your team – and if there is only one of you that doesn’t matter (in fact it’s easier). Then you ask yourselves – what are the skills we bring to the table (answering genuinely) and what are the skills the Startup needs now, in order to be successful (“now” is critical because the answer will change over time).

Our four engineers in the first example, all have solid engineering skills for sure, but what other skills do they have? Our “Lone Founder” may have many skills, but she will not possess all of the skills needed to succeed.

Determine the “gap” – what have we got, what do we need, and then – where will we get them to fill the gap (and it’s not always recruitment).

You need to determine how often you need the skills you don’t have.

You might need input from a CFO type character once a month, but from an administrator every week. In the early days, when money is tight, you might need to lean on friends and family for support, or reach out to some of the services offered by Start-up Gurus where limited help can be pro bono.

Also consider bringing in serious “firepower” where the skill you miss is critical to success – for example, 4 Engineers might not possess amongst them the skills to be a CEO and lead the business – the best widget in the world will fail without the right leadership.

Never be afraid to bring onboard a CEO to lead the company (when resources allow) – you can still remain major shareholders but leave the hard work to someone who’s been round the block a few times and knows how to make it happen in your industry sector.

Review the Skills Gap Analysis Frequently

This Skills Gap Analysis needs to be reviewed as the business grows because the requirements will change – new skills will be needed and the quantity will vary. It’s inevitable that a growing Startup will eventually need a full time CFO even if they started with a part time one in the beginning. Some resources that were delivered by third parties might be brought in-house e.g. HR or Marketing.


Look for the gaps in the skills you bring to the table by doing a Skills Gap Analysis.

From this, work out how to cover these gaps with the right calibre, at the right time and for the correct amount of input.


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