It seems that the team is the most important thing for a raising startup. A solid proof is the fact it is always a highlight in startup accelerators’ application forms. It looks important.
But it is much more important than that. From the moment you start working on your startup, everything that will happen with it depends on the team behind it. Every startup member gets that eventually – the earlier, the better.
Here are three main reasons why is the crew so crucial:
1. Everything depends on the people managing the company. Absolutely everything.
I still don’t get why there are so many young entrepreneurs still believing that it only takes a bunch of good code and design and your web or mobile child will grow on its own. Too many founders think that people will start using it right away, just like that! Perhaps people like Mark Zuckerberg made that thought more realistic, but the truth is different: he and the other guys like him worked their asses off before getting where they are now.
There’s more: they also knew or met the right people in the right moment and that takes a lot of efforts, experience, contacts and luck. Remember that magical moment when you have a brilliant idea and want to build a great business out of it? Well, the road is quite long between that moment and the moment when you have a successful company. Very long and full of obstacles.
One of our mentors at Lisbon Challenge, Robert Dohrendorf (financial expert, couch and startup mentor) said that the average time of building a successful company is around 7 years. That’s why it is so important to have long term hard-working people around you who are not afraid of hard times and can swallow their pride when they need to.
2. The image of your company also depends on the team
There is a common deception: people only use my product – they don’t know and care who I am. Wrong! You are not invisible behind your website or application. You are the person who get this thing going on, so you have to show up wherever you can. Being everywhere possible, talking to people and pitching your startup is a very hard role and there should be a person good at that in your team.
It is really time consuming and should not be done by all of the founders. On the other hand, people who never tried it very often underestimate that job. Make sure your co-founders and team members understand what you do and why you do it (by showing them the results of it and giving them an idea of your preparation efforts). The perfect team understands that every role is important and doesn’t question other guys’ efforts too much.
3. Co-founders build their company’s culture
You will have to hire people at some point. In many cases this is one of the hardest times for a startup, because it is rather important to get the right people on board. Generally, when you have to deal with people, it’s hard – they are different, they change their minds and give you a lot of trouble.
With new team members you hire your company will instantly grow. Your company culture will be created with or without you realising it. By building your team, you decide how to manage people and how they will communicate with each other. You will also start to think about the fact their salaries and wellbeing depends on you; will need to deal with their professional and personal issues. If you don’t have much experience, make sure you have someone to help you with that (a mentor, friend etc.). Chose a person who has experience and did well with people (How to be sure? E.g. talk to several people he or she managed before).
It’s not that hard after all: the more motivated, balanced and experienced are your team members the bigger is your chance to succeed together. So, chose them wisely. Once you decide, do not regret about anything – there is no point. Move on, make it better next time.