ECC Talk #3 – Foundations of a Founding Team

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Starting a business is a big challenge, one that takes a lot time, energy, and a diverse skill set. It is the rare individual that excels in every aspect of running a business. Most of use have our strengths and weaknesses. Know your weaknesses and hire people that are strong there.

Most of us have encountered a few problems when working on a team. From the basic poor communication issues, to an unwillingness to make decisions, constant negative attitudes, and even actively undermining the team finding the right people is a big challenge. Finding talented people is just adds challenge of building a great founding team, attitude often has just as big a role in the success of a startup. As Mark Suster writes in his blog:

“I have a long-standing mantra, “attitude over aptitude.” This is assuming a raw minimum of MIPS in the candidate. They need to be seriously smart / talented in their field to make the minimum grade.

But within this “minimum acceptable talent level” you still have a wide variance of “employee types.” Let’s be honest – some uber talented people are PITAs. I never hire them. One bad apple spoils things for everybody.

You don’t see it coming. You figure, “sure, they’re a pain but they produce such high quality work I’m willing to put up with them.” Don’t. The last thing you need is some rat bastard fomenting trouble.” – Mark Suster, Whom you should hire at a startup – attitude of aptitude

Of course forming the founding team is just the first step, which is followed by setting up the formalities of the team. When setting up a founding team there are tons of things to consider and things that should be put in writing (stocks, ownership, vesting, etc.) to protect everyone involved. The fact of the matter is that life gets in the way. If two founders each own 50% of the company and one person has to move away, they end up with a free ride on the coat tails of the remaining founder. Life will always happen and things will have to change as time does on and it can get even more complicated with a larger team of co-founders.

Worst case if the need to remove a co-founder or member of the founding team, don’t let it drag out. Firing co-founders is tough, but sometimes neccesary for the company as a whole to survive. The process is very a fun one for any party involved, but the alternative is letting a situation spin out of control and damaging or destroying the company entirely. It happens too may times. Take a few precautions and protect everyone. Life finds everyone and it might just be you that has to back out.

 

ECC Talk #4 – The Business Model Canvas – A 1 page business plan and evaluation tool