Startup Team
Étienne Krieger, Professor and Scientific Director at the Entrepreneurship Centre, HEC Paris.

Creating an innovative and successful startup team is rarely the work of one person because of the different skills required.

This old African saying applies perfectly to entrepreneurs: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

We conducted a study in 2014, with a colleague Thomas Littée, into the make-up of start-up ventures, and it showed that only 12% of start-ups was run with just one person making all of the strategic decisions.

In 72% of these cases, the decisions were made by two or three business partners. 

Though entrepreneurship is often seen as a largely solo career path, it is actually the environment in which the best and most effective collaborations can happen.

Still, the management of a growing startup can fail to be effective when too many people are making the decisions.

So, in order to launch and make a success of your new business, how can entrepreneurs choose the right people to form their startup team:

Tip 1 – Let Your Startup Team Compliment You

One of the biggest challenges is uniting complementary partners. People who share the same outlook, values, and objectives, or at least similar enough to be compatible.

However, as tempting as it may be to surround yourself with people who will not challenge your plans, it is of no benefit to work with clones – those who have the same skills and personality as you.

Tip 2 – Avoid Personality Clash

A founder needs to be careful in combining different personalities and understand that differences may cause synergy and, at times, antagonism. Success largely hinges on the ability to overcome these differences.

Tip 3 – Role Matching

To further minimise complications in setting up a business, the initial shareholding should be divided up according to the personal involvement and skills of each person.

This must be fair so that people are inclined to involve themselves fully in the venture.

Startup Team
Uniting all kinds of personalities.

Tip 4 – People Sifting

And whilst it is not too difficult to evaluate the technical skills of a potential team member, evaluating their psychological profile and compatibility with other staff members is a highly complex task.

It is important to take the time to get to know each another, exchange views on success, and reinforce trust. Understanding is quickly established when the group defines the first steps in the development of the business and divides up the tasks.

This exercise often makes it easier to identify those who are really interested in developing the business, and those who are just talk.

Tip 5 – Immersing Your People Into The Business

Learn to share out responsibilities and time commitments. As much as an under-motivated team member can cause issues, a partner who has little involvement can also risk upsetting the group dynamic.

Hence the problem with choosing partners too hastily or on a misunderstanding.

It is foolish to avoid asking the questions that must be asked for fear of causing upset, as doing so could lead to disaster further down the line when you realise your vision and goals are at odds with those of your team.

Tip 6 – Turn Conflicts Into Opportunities

Anticipating problems, and dealing with conflict, must be done within entrepreneurial teams.

If problems happen early on so much the better but, regardless of when they occur, if they are dealt with in a constructive manner they can help the team to grow and bond just as much as success does.

Tip 7 – Uniting All Kinds Of Personalities

The ability to unite different people with differing characteristics – whether creative, organized, calm, impulsive, empathic or charming – makes it possible to create a hugely successful startup team.

For example, rather than see a conductor lead an orchestra, we instead see the leader showing the talent of its team and captivating the audience through their joy at creating something together.

Joint Post By – Étienne Krieger, Professor and Scientific Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre, HEC Paris, and Anne-Claire Lethbridge, Coach and Deputy Director, Livingstone RH.

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