Many investors focus their energy and assets on one primary factor while considering investment in a start-up—a great team. Investors believe if the team is right, even if the first idea is not workable, the right team will be able to pivot (iterate on the existing concept) and create the right solution. A good idea without a great team is likely to negatively affect a start-up’s potential to attract investment.

A GrowthEnabler survey from TieCon Delhi 2015 showed the No. 1 challenge to their business was hiring a team. It became even more critical when searching for a co-founder or founding team. Nearly 75% of high potential start-ups fail due to co-founder conflict (Noam Wasserman, Harvard Business Review). Blame, feelings of unequal contribution, misalignment of expectations, responsibilities and deliverables are just some of the contributors to co-founder conflicts. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (Apple), and Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Luiz Saverin (Facebook) are among the famous examples of
co-founder conflicts, furthering the definition of a right team, one which is able to harmoniously work together.

Why do you need a team?

Entrepreneurs who believe they can single-handedly build and grow a business neglect to recognize that a variety of skills are required to build and grow a company.

For example, a founder with technical expertise may design and build a product or service. However, will they be equally effective at marketing and selling or managing the finances? How about logistics and operations? Today all businesses are digital business. Do they have the expertise to build and execute a digital and social media strategy?

Sure, some of these aspects of a business can be outsourced to external agencies. However, one of the keys to an investable business is the leader’s realization of the need for a complementary team to support in areas where they have less expertise or experience.

What is the right team? A complementary team with diverse background has a far better chance of making a successful company. The right team will bring an array of individual perspectives, and experiences, resulting in a higher number of ideas and solutions for the business. If aligned with a similar value system and an encouraging and supportive team culture, the right team will engage in a healthy conflict resolution and deliver well-thought-out solutions.

How do you ensure you are creating a complementary team which can amicably work together and add value to the company? Consider asking potential recruits these questions, and see how they align with your company’s culture and goals.

Understand their drive or passion: Why would you like to join this business? How will this venture help you achieve your personal and professional goals? What are you willing to sacrifice to make this business a success? Working long hours (start-ups do not work 9-5), or working in multiple roles; even co-founders have to do the occasional secretarial job.

Discover their value systems: Why do you care about the product or service provided by the company? How do you think it will make a larger impact, and why is that important to you? How do you resolve conflict? Test some scenarios.

Test their runway: How long will you commit to this venture? Perhaps they plan to work in a start-up for a few years and then build their own start-up? How will you manage your personal finances if your salary has to be lowered or put on hold? Start-ups do run into cash flow problems. When do we call it quits? A question specific to hiring co-founders.

Case study: GrowthEnabler’s client, Team Rustic, a Mumbai-based event management
start-up, have a two-member founder team. Vinod came from a sales and marketing field and his wife Maya had a customer-servicing background. At Team Rustic, while Vinod was focusing on business clients to generate sales and grow the business, Maya worked behind the scenes to create and deliver the service, an amazing event experience resulting in high client satisfaction. In five years, their complementary skills had created an event management company servicing some of the biggest financial services companies in Mumbai. Maya also recruited some ex-colleagues and operations experts who were as passionate about delivering their high-value customer centric service. Team Rustic’s way was clear—create and deliver an amazing event experience.

At GrowthEnabler we believe ideas are abundant, but execution is scarce. Many people have great ideas, but only a handful have the ability to execute an idea to form a business. Unless your team has passion and motivation to stay true and focused on the mission, it is unlikely that the business will survive the hard times. When you surround yourself with equally passionate and driven team members with complementary skills, you are building a team that will find its way to success.

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