I'm a feelance CFO and I work actively with early stage companies. I've been at this for almost 30 years. Some of my current and recent clients wrestle actively with this very questions.
My advice is to have the tough conversations right up front, early in the team building process. This usually consists of answering questions like, "who's in charge and what does that really mean," "who gets how much of the company and when and in exchange for what," "what are you, you and you really bringing to the table in terms of skills and cash," and "who is really in a life situation that will allow them to sustain their commitment to the business?"
Any team that can get through these questions can get through the trials of surviving startup.
I'm happy to talk with you directly about these issues and, in particular, to help look at them through a strategic financial planning lens.
Go to networking events to meet people and have conversations. You want to find people having passion towards the ideas you propose, having entrepreneur mindset and having different strengths that compliment with yours. At the same time, you want to protect your IP. I will be happy to have a conversation with you.
Honestly, I would have everyone do a personality profile test to see what you are really working with. People may look great on paper, but when it gets tough and decisions need to be made they may fold or pass on the responsibility which will not help. You my want to bring in a neutral party to evaluate everyone individually and then how they would best work in your company. I would love to speak with you about this.
Your team is going to make you or break you. First, take inventory of your skills and assess how much capital you have (technical, social and financial). Then, assess what complimentary capital you'll need (i.e. bringing on a technical co-founder if you're not technical). Once you've accounted for the technical aspects, start thinking of what type of cultural attributes you would like in your team (very critical). Finally, write the description down and then start recruiting. Take your time and begin with your network first, and then start expanding to 2nd and 3rd degree connections.
Once your team is on-board, put together an operating agreement (jointly if possible) and Implement a 6 or 12 month cliff. This will protect your business from any risks if things go sideways for any reason.
Take your time with putting together a team. You're going to be married to these folks for a long time.
Though I am a sole proprietor, I have a team of colleagues that I call upon often and who energize my vision. I think this is key.
First you have to determine what "like-minded" is. To help, I want to ask you some questions.
Do you want folks who regard your business just like you do? If that is what like-mindedness looks to you, you'll have to introduce your business in a way that each individual can take ownership. The difficulty for most founders of businesses, I being one, is not micromanaging the situation but allowing them latitude, trusting that they are equally invested. That can be scary.
Or do you want folks who are mini-representations of you? They have the same strengths, temperaments, personality as you. If this is the "like-mindedness" you are pursuing then I would caution you. The strength of the team is the harmony of their unique contributions to the whole. This adds depth and breadth to your vision. No two people sound exactly alike, yet their tones blend well. It'll be your responsibility as the leader to foster collaboration versus competition. It won't be easy. But oh, it will be worth it.
I would love to assist you in getting more clear in figuring out what team would best serve your vision and mission. Contact me.
I am a Forbes-featured team building expert with over 20 years of experience. I have worked with companies from 19 countries.
First of all I would caution you against building a team of like-minded individuals. That is one way to ensure that your business is blindsided at every turn. You will have a group of yes men rather than an effective team as Groupthink will set in.
My blog post dives into this:
Avoiding Groupthink: Coming up with Better Team Decisions
You need team members who will bring a variety of perspectives and listen to each other.
You do want to make sure that you have a shared vision and values. Competency based behavioural interviewing will greatly assist you in the hiring or promotional process.
My company offers training and coaching in this methodology:
You are welcome to reach out to me for more information.
There is one answer to your question of building a team of like-minded individuals to help start your business. In a recent study of 95 new start-up teams in the Netherlands, this very question was explored. It was found that experience alone was not enough to make a team thrive. While experience broadens the teams’ resource pool, helps people identify opportunities, and is positively related to team effectiveness, a team also needs soft skills to truly thrive. Specifically, the study shows that shared entrepreneurial passion and shared strategic vision are required to get to superior team performance as rated by the external venture capital investors.
Of the start-ups that were studied, the group that reported high levels of previous experience but average to low levels of passion and collective vision demonstrated weak team performance when it came to innovation in products and services, customer satisfaction, cost control, and expected sales growth. Contrary, the group of teams that reported average levels of previous experience, but high levels of passion and collective vision demonstrated significantly stronger performance. It was also found that greater team experience only leads to better performance if team members share a strategic vision for the company. Thus, when team members do not agree on the future strategy of the firm, the knowledge, and skills they have will only marginally contribute to team performance.
When we talk about this balance between team member experience (hard skills) and passion and vision (soft skills) there is a sweet spot where stellar teams seem to live. If team members are super smart and experienced, but they do not feel like sharing this knowledge due to a lack of alignment about the vision for the company, their knowledge is useless for the business. Instead, these differences in passion and vision make teams perform worse. For example, if the CTO in the start-up team has a lot of experience in the cyber software industry that is useful for building the current business, but she doesn’t agree with the CEO on the future strategy of the company, she is less likely to share all her previous knowledge on cyber software within the team. To illustrate the importance of evaluating an entrepreneurial team with this balance between hard and soft skills in mind, let us look at the case of someone called Emma, an investor at a venture capital firm. Emma recently told me about a potential investment in a software company in Stockholm that she was extremely excited about. Let us call it Clocker. When Emma read about Clocker and received the company materials, she was thrilled to meet the team. In addition to the interesting financials, the team’s track record was outstanding. The CEO had in depth industry knowledge, worked in the software space for years, and led the product division for Salesforce. The CFO graduated from Harvard, had worked for Bain & Company before joining Clocker and had very strong financial and strategic skills. The VP of Sales was a sales tiger who had worked as an account manager for Microsoft. Finally, the fourth team member was very hands-on, a serial entrepreneur with a successful exit on her resume and some experience with start-up failures. On paper, this team for sure seemed to have all it would take to successfully scale up Clocker and ensure a nice return on the investment.
Nevertheless, when the team members presented their pitch in the boardroom and elaborated on the Clocker growth strategy, Emma was disappointed. The story just did not hold. While the CEO told Emma that she wanted to expand to the U.S. and become the next Salesforce, the CTO did not seem to share this ambition. He dismissed the CEO’s ideas immediately and argued that the company would be too busy with other projects to realize global expansion this year. It became clear that the Clocker team had vastly different goals in mind. They were also not equally passionate about the company. The VP of Sales still ran his own sales business on the side while the CTO was constantly on the lookout for other jobs. While previous experience has often been cited as a key ingredient for entrepreneurial success, our results show that experience alone will not lead to success. Instead knowledge, skills, and passion are equally important for succeeding as a new venture. Experience and expertise only lead to better performance if team members share their knowledge and have a common vision for the company. When investors evaluate start-up teams, they should keep in mind that a great resume alone is not enough to achieve great performance. Building a successful start-up is a long and bumpy road; without entrepreneurial passion and strategic vision, a stellar resume merely becomes a piece of paper. When Emma talked to the CEO a few weeks later she learned that the Clocker team had broken up. Because of their different goals for the company, team members did not communicate efficiently and failed to share their knowledge, which led to bad team dynamics and weak decision-making.
While previous experience has often been cited as a key ingredient for entrepreneurial success, our results show that experience alone will not lead to success. Instead knowledge, skills, and passion are equally important for succeeding as a new venture. Experience and expertise only lead to better performance if team members share their knowledge and have a common vision for the company. When investors evaluate start-up teams, they should keep in mind that a great resume alone is not enough to achieve great performance. Building a successful start-up is a long and bumpy road; without entrepreneurial passion and strategic vision, a stellar resume merely becomes a piece of paper.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath