Which skills should the founders build deep expertise in?
Early in the Ideation Phase founder skills, commitment, and the startup structure are undeveloped. However, when proceeding those skills and the structure should be evaluated;
- Are you (founders) the entrepreneurial type?
- Are you resilient and committed?
- Are you prepared financially?
- Have you considered the Pro’s and Con’s
- Have you consider impact on your personal life (family etc.)?
Source: T. Eisenmann, R. Howe, and B. Altringer (Harvard Business Review)
Starting a startup is a intellectual, emotional and physical challenge. In order to survive those challenges, apply Survival Guide practices:
- Establish a healthy work environment (organizational ecology).
- Find your work/life balance (work, rest, social contact with supportive people, and physical movement – exercise).
- Hire the best (your startup is only as good as the people who work in it).
- Build/establish processes (synchronization of people, technologies, facilities, information, and knowledge).
- Be committed to creating a great product/service (something people want? Or is it something people will want?).
- Protect information (your most valuable asset after people is your information).
- Give Back (help other founders during the journey).
‘If you haven’t got any charity in your heart… you have the worst kind of heart trouble.’ ~ Bob Hope
Many hands make light work.
When seeking out and evaluating potential founding partners, take into account the following:
- History: Founders should share a prehistory before they start a company together—otherwise they’re just rolling the dice. The founding team needs a synergy that is strong enough to withstand, and work through inevitable challenges and difficulties that come when transitioning a concept into a startup company. They should know each other well enough to work well together… and consistently.
- Ability: For some, technical ability matters more, especially if the technology itself is going to be the differentiating element of the company. In T. Tunguz’s research of successful startups; 70% had at least one technical co-founder, while 40% were composed exclusively of engineers.
- Number of People: Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, refers to the Two-Pizza Team: if you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large. However, the effect of size does depend on a number of factors, although large founding teams can be burdensome. The flip-side is equally true. It’s uncommon to see successful companies created by a sole co-founder, because it’s often important to have another person who shares the vision, can help make difficult decisions, and is able to execute a different piece of whatever is being created.
- Having a Why: Every company exists for a purpose, and that purpose should be dis-tillable into a sentence or two. Knowing why people are committed to a common goal is important. There is a unity of vision underlying the startup; when times get difficult, a higher purpose serves as motivation to continue (and levels of grit and hustle that keep the startup alive).
- Incentives: Ownership of a company is the reward for creating its success. However, having a messy division of equity can create havoc later on, especially if the startup begins to raise money.
- Execution: The founders should be able to demonstrate a level of accomplishment (product they built, fearlessness).
- Versatility: Having a flexible founding team is invaluable. Entrenched, one-dimensional teams respond to uncertainty (change of plans, pivot to new ideas, and roles) with hesitancy and obstinacy; whereas skillful teams embrace it.
No business is so good that the wrong people can’t mess it up. This is why one of the first steps in the analysis of a startup is a close, deep look, at the founding team.
Source: Peter Thiel
Life vs. Startup (4:30)
Drawing boundaries around your time.