By Sam Bahreini, serial entrepreneur and growth marketer.
No element will impact your startup more during its crucial early growth stages than the members of your team. Their personalities, values and actions will influence the direction of the company in ways both active and passive. So choose them wisely in order to jumpstart your chances of success.
There is no room on a startup team for people who shut down and keep things to themselves. This kind of behavior creates a toxic environment and leads to suspicion and the erosion of trust in the partnership. People who avoid confrontation because they hope the problem will go away are never going to be a good fit for your startup team, no matter how many other positive qualities they bring to the table.
Your team must understand that communication is paramount for the success of the organization. When it comes to the matters of the organization, you really can't be too open with your partners.
Work With People You Enjoy Being Around
First of all, you don't have to be best friends with the people on your team. In fact, they don't even have to be people that you necessarily want to have a relationship with outside of a professional setting. Many successful business partnerships remain squarely in the realm of the professional for their duration.
That being said, it is crucial to surround yourself with collaborators who you have a friendly rapport with. You're going to be spending a lot of time together out of necessity, and if every interaction is a struggle, it will wear you down over time.
Understand Your Competencies and Work From There
Even visionary leaders understand that there are only so many skills that they can bring to the table. They recognize that they have a unique opportunity when they are constructing their startup team to complement their own skills and mitigate their limitations through the qualities of their collaborators.
Consider how Michael Gerber detailed the three personalities of the entrepreneur in his seminal work, The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work And What To Do About It. Gerber outlined the tendencies of entrepreneurs to gravitate to the paradigm of the technician, the entrepreneur or the manager. You can see how a team composed heavily of people who all skew toward the technician would get bogged down in the daily details without anyone to lead with vision, and so on with each of the categories. First, understand what you do best and what skills you lack, and then look for team members who will strengthen the organization accordingly.
Find Partners Who Love to Learn
Every new startup is a massive exercise in education, even for people who have been a part of the birth of dozens of companies. That's because every situation is so unique that it inevitably brings about new and unforeseen experiences. If you take advantage of what's available to you, you're going to benefit from a wealth of knowledge and learn from your mistakes as you navigate your company through its early life.
Your partners must be prepared to get as much as they can out of these experiences, as well. There are certainly some times where you will all need to put your heads down and get the job done, but it's vital to choose people who are constantly curious and will look for ways to improve the experience for the organization's stakeholders, employees and customers.
Look for Collaborators Who Are a Good Fit With Your Company Culture
You may think, "My company is barely off the ground yet; it doesn't even have a culture." You would be incorrect. Your culture will absolutely evolve over time as it is influenced by the people in and around the organization, but it is present in some form from the moment you decide to start a company.
Culture fit is one of the most important principles for every position you hire, and your founding team is no exception. As the leader, you get to decide what values your company will ultimately operate by. It's important for the other members of your team to both share those values and understand why they form the core of the business' mission.
Sam Bahreini is a serial entrepreneur and growth marketer.