In my effort to always provide a steady stream of useful information to entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, I post tons of interesting and helpful articles that I find around the web that I think can help answer questions for my followers and help you all move your businesses forward. Oftentimes, people write me asking to elaborate on those articles or pieces of those articles so I am starting a series that will do just that. I may combine a few or leave a few out here and there, but I will cover the topics that people most often asked me to elaborate on.
I recently posted an article from RockthePost about common misconceptions people have about launching a new company. The next of those misconceptions that I want to tackle here is the mistaken idea that it’s easy to build a founding team and that those original team members will all still be together at the end.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs believe that once they have their business idea, pulling together a kick-butt team that will help build the new company to success will be easy to do and that those team members will stick around until the end. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Creating the right mix of talent and personality on a founding team is extremely difficult…and it’s a major key to success. You’ve surely read dozens, if not hundreds, of times that investors bet on a team even more than they bet on a product. That’s because they know that a killer team is much tougher to come by than a killer idea and they’re willing to put their money behind those that shine.
When building your founding team, you not only need to find talented team members that can really deliver in their area of expertise, but also, you need to find team members that will mesh well together, are committed to the same vision, have thick skins and honest mouths, and are comfortable with the business’ growth strategy and hierarchy. Look for team members who:
- Are superstars in their area of expertise, but can also see beyond their own silos
- Think big picture, but don’t need to be the captain of the ship
- Have complementary skill sets – you don’t need or want 6 clones of yourself; you need and want team members whose strengths balance out your weaknesses
- Are easy to get along with, but not because they’re push overs – you need people who will be honest and speak their minds but aren’t stubborn or difficult to get along with
- Share your vision of where the company should go and how it should get there
- Are reliable and responsible – everyone should be on a vesting schedule anyway, but you don’t want to have to rely on that to know that your team will get their jobs done
If you pull that all together, you’re basically looking for a magic unicorn of a founding team…and that’s why so many teams don’t stick together for the long haul and so many companies with great products or services fail. When you’re setting out on your entrepreneurial journey, make sure you give the building of your founding team the time and attention it deserves. If you need some more tips for how to pick partners, check out my old post on the topic of choosing a cofounder here.
You should also never assume that all of the original team members will be there until the end. No matter how careful you are at the outset when building your team, sometimes things simply don’t work out. Make sure you’re prepared for that by having structured the business in such a way that a founding team member’s departure doesn’t destroy your momentum or cost you dearly in equity. Always have an agreement in place that clearly outlines every founding member’s rights and responsibilities so that if there does come a time when someone needs to depart – amicably or not – you know exactly how it will be handled. For more information about what to include in that agreement, check out my older post here.
Despite being one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when building your business, so many aspiring entrepreneurs drastically underestimate the difficulty of building and maintaining a founding team and the unfortunate misconception that it’s easy to do can quickly cost them success.
Now I want to hear from you. Have you been shocked at how tough it is to build a solid founding team to launch your new business? What difficulties have you encountered and what tricks have you learned for making the process easier? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and, if you’re not already watching at catecosta.com, be sure to get over to the website to join the conversation.
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