Picking the right team for your startup

Teamwork is vital for start-up companies

When starting a new venture, everything begins with picking the right team. That is something heavily on my mind right now as I am about to launch a new company.

In “Good to Great”, the book clearly found empirical evidence showing that the team is more important than the vision or idea. The reasoning is that a great team working together will fine tune the idea into a winning vision.

I could not agree more. I’ve learned a lot about putting teams together,  having been involved in five previous startups. First, the entrepreneur must understand his or her own strengths and weaknesses. It sounds easy but experience has taught me that honest self-evaluation is not always a strength of entrepreneurs.

Once the leader’s skills are honestly assessed, the team members should augment and complement those attributes. Imagine a basketball team of just centers. Well, I’ve seen a start-up team of just programmers without any business or management experience.

I certainly want team members smarter than me, especially in areas of my weakness. In general, having smart people around is obviously a good thing regardless. However, chemistry is more important than individual intelligence or capabilities. An aligned, supportive team will always outperform a superstar who is not willing to work with others.

So, you think you have an amazing business idea and plan? I will guarantee one thing. Your plan will change and evolve as you test it in the market. However, the people  you pick on your team will most likely be the same core people taking you through the execution of the plan.

Here are some questions to ask when assembling the team:

  • Honest evaluation of each person’s skills, not just in areas of their professional domain expertise, but in people, management and sales skills.
  • Is each person a team player? Do they provide positive energy or drain energy from the group?
  • How would each person react to stressful situations?
  • Are the individual value systems aligned?
  • Are your expectations aligned with each teammembers’ expectations? Double check.
  • If you have doubt, don’t include that person. Don’t talk yourself into it.