The business will pivot, the strategy will change, the target market will be altered (you might go crazy and go live up in the woods, never wanting to hear the word startup again), but the one factor which must stay constant is a successful core team. The founders and core team are perhaps the most essential part of the entire startup. Creating alignment with all members focusing on a single vision is not easy, which is why external support is often needed. A fresh pair of eyes, whether from a VC, consultant, mentor or just the guy delivering your lunch, can be extremely helpful to keep everyone on track.
Here are a few of the key issues to focus on:
- Experience – How much relevant experience does the current team have? How long have you worked together or known each other? Are there strategic gaps which need to be filled?
- Private Investment Experience – Have any team members worked with Angel Investors or VCs? Have any of you successfully exited startups before?
- Grit – How long has the team bootstrapped? How many times have you failed? What level of passion and endurance is apparent? What milestones have you already achieved?
- Growth – Does the team understand how to scale a business in their field? Is the proper infrastructure in place to grow?
- Ethics – Moral and ethical challenges will present themselves as the company develops, how will the team as a collective view these situations?
These 5 points are vital, but the most important attribute of a great team is execution. As the business model evolves and market landscape changes, action is required. If the team is going to fail, they better do it fast! Failure is an opportunity to make pivots and try again. Get up, dust yourself off, go eat a cheeseburger and have another crack at it. Ultimately the startup will grow via rapid pivoting or burn out, allowing all stakeholders to move on. Either way, everyone involved, whether an investor or founder, wants this to happen quickly.
There is nothing worse than pulling off a band-aid slowly…