Building a successful startup team
Building a Successful Start-Up Team
A common problem that causes new ventures to fail is due to a weak start-up team. Choosing the right co-founders or new employees is a critical step in creating a successful founding team.
Hard skills such as experience, product knowledge and industry skills are important requirements for entrepreneurial success. However, experience alone is not sufficient. A right balance of hard and soft skills makes a team truly thrive. Knowledge, skills, passion and team diversity are equally important for the success of a start-up.
Balancing hard and soft skills
Experience broadens the teams’ resource pool, helps people identify opportunities, and contributes to team effectiveness. In addition, a team needs soft skills like entrepreneurial passion and a shared strategic vision for its superior performance. Average or low levels of passion and collective vision lead to weak team performance.
Greater team experience gives good performance only if team members share a strategic vision for the company. When team members do not have a common vision, their knowledge and skills will only marginally contribute to team performance.
In fact, differences in passion and vision make teams perform worse. Team members do not communicate efficiently and share their knowledge. This can lead to bad team dynamics and weak decision-making.
Educationally diverse teams whose members have different kinds of degrees (engineering, business, and so forth) tend to enjoy greater entrepreneurial success. Diversity prevents groupthink and encourages teams to question what they think they know. Diverse teams with varied backgrounds are less susceptible to groupthink. They are more willing to embrace the experimental nature of the lean start-up method.
Homogeneous teams with similar backgrounds suffer from groupthink. They may be overly optimistic about their initial ideas and are less likely to probe them further.
Six essential roles of a team
A stellar start-up team is likely to comprise people who fulfil the following roles. One person may play several roles.
1. The Visionary
- This person creates and articulates the vision for the company
- Someone who thinks in concepts and produces ideas to form new projects for the company
2. The Operational Leader
- Someone with a ‘get things done” attitude and is able to multitask and implement things critical to the visionary
- This person is practice-driven and knows how to respond to clients demands
3. The Team Leader
- Every start-up team needs a clear leader who will be responsible for decision-making, consensus and compromise
- Other members in the team look up to and are willing to follow this person
4. The Product/Service Expert
- This person knows everything about the company’s product or service and the industry.
- The expert is knowledgeable about product development and works on resolving issues that clients face
5. The Salesperson
- This person has technical insight, leadership, and sales experience
- The strong salesperson will find ways to promote and sell the company’s products and services
6. The Financial Expert
- This financial talent knows how to manage cash flows, plan budgets and make financial projections
- Accounting skills and strategic thinking are essential for this role
Horban, T. (2020, July 10). How to create a stellar startup team: An ultimate guide. Central European Universtiy iLab. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.ilab.ceu.edu/articles/how-to-create-a-stellar-startup-team-an-ultimate-guide
De Mol, E. (2019, March 21). What Makes a Successful Startup Team. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2019/03/what-makes-a-successful-startup-team
Katila, R., & Leatherbee, M. (2021, April 23). To make lean startups work, you need a balanced team. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2021/04/to-make-lean-startups-work-you-need-a-balanced-team