Nothing can sabotage a startup's potential faster than its "people problems."
Everything grows from the founding team and it is critical that you assemble an excellent team from the get-go. Just like the first meal of the day, breakfast, sets you up for the day. A strong founding team sets your startup up for a smoother journey.
Read on to find out how you can create the best founding team.
Why do you need a team? Can I go solo?
You can choose to go solo but it’s important to recognize that you’ll be at a disadvantage from the start. Despite there being a few solopreneur success stories such as Plenty of Fish that was founded by Markus Frind, it’s beneficial for you and the company to have a co-founder.
Founding teams are actually far more likely to experience success and attract investors in comparison to solo founders.
What’s the reason for this?
Being a solo entrepreneur is a vote of no confidence for investors. Even if your idea is fantastic, you’re diligent, and you’re talented, it makes no difference. To the investor, it seems like nobody believes in you or your idea.
It’s also great to have a partner to assist in getting you back on your feet when things go west. When things go wrong, it hurts and it can be a huge blow to your confidence. Having a friend who understands exactly what you’re going through will make a huge difference.
The magic number
When it comes to decision-making, two founders are better than one. However, the risk of disagreements about the business’s direction is high. With three founders, the team will theoretically have a nice mix of leadership, strategic thinking, and operational skills
Any number higher than 3 is moving into risky territory. There’s a higher risk of disagreements and conflicts which will affect the vision and the workflow. You want to keep your team as lean as possible at the beginning.
What should a founding team look like?
Your team should have a mixture of complementary skills and abilities. What you lack should be made up by your co-founder/s.
If your co-founders have the exact same skill set as you, you’ll have the same weaknesses and this is not ideal. Your startup will suffer as a result.
The founding team should consist of a visionary, a hustler, and a hacker.
The visionary is usually the CEO and the dreamer. They're the person that looks into the future and thinks about the big picture.
They are someone who comes up with ideas, innovations and are seeking to disrupt the status quo. They're constantly searching for ways to grow and expand the business and are ready to adapt and pivot at any moment. They refuse to let any difficulties set them back and they organise and inspire the rest of the team to keep pushing forward.
The hustler is the jack-of-all-trades. They're defined by attitude, not by position or title. They're the doer of the group and are ready to put the hours in to achieve their goals. They set the pace and make sure that everyone else keeps up. They also help the visionaries and hackers to stay grounded.
The hacker is the brains of the company. They live and breathe the product. Their entire job is to ensure that your startup’s technology, processes and hardware are robust and fit-for-purpose. How well-made a product is depends on the hacker. The product starts and stops with them. Without the product, there is no business.
Despite there being three crucial roles, you may find that two founders is enough for your startup. One co-founder may have the characteristics needed for two of the roles. However, it’s important to have all three roles covered whether you’re a team of two or a team of three.
As mentioned before, you want to be as lean as possible. Any other roles in the early stages of a startup are an excess. Once your startup scales, you can always recruit new team members.
What does the perfect team have?
The perfect team not only has complementary skills and abilities but it also has a number of important traits.
Trust & Respect: Can you trust them? Do they trust you? Have you earned their respect? Have they earned your respect?
Dependability: Can you rely on them to do something they’ve agreed to do?
Humility: Are they down to earth? Do they believe that no task is below them?
Demographic diversity: Does the team have a mixture of genders, races, ages, ethnicities?
Personality diversity: Is there a mixture of introverts and extroverts? Do the members have different personality types?
Functional diversity: Does the team have a mixture of different skills? Is there a large skill set?
Communication: Are you able to communicate well with each other? Are you willing to communicate even during or after disagreements?
Determination: Are all co-founders determined and willing to do whatever it takes?
Commitment: Is everyone equally as committed to the startup? Will everyone stick through the highs and lows?
Work ethic: Will everyone put as much effort in? Will you all pour in the hours, nights and weekends?
Compatibility: Do you get along? Are you friends? If not, could you be friends? Do you share interests outside of the business?
Passion: Are you all equally as passionate? Do they have passion for other things outside of business?
Invincibility: Do you feel invincible working together? Like nothing can stop you.
Fun: Do you have fun together? Are you able to tackle obstacles together with humour?
If you are able to answer yes to all of these questions, you’re definitely on the right track.
Choosing a business partner is a lot like marriage. It’s a commitment and when searching for a co-founder, be sure not to rush the process. If you rush it, you may end up regretting it.
The people in your company will either make or break your startup so choose your co-founders wisely.