Building the founding team is by far the most important part of building a startup. The founding team sets the vision, builds the rest of the team, builds the prototypes, and brings in the initial customers. Once you have one or two people that want to work on a startup, there can be a tendency to ‘just get going’ without putting enough emphasis on ensuring that you have the right team in place, which leads to a lot of failure scenarios.
Setting goals is a lot more common than achieving them. This is in part because of how we set our goals, and in part because of how we check-in on our goals and hold ourselves accountable.
It’s important to know why we’re setting goals, so that we have a sense of commitment and motivation to achieve them. Then we need to make goals clear and measurable, and work backwards to define leading indicators and milestones. Lastly, we need to define a cadence of accountability so that we can evaluate how we’re doing and make behavior modifications along the way.
We all know the old “B-players hire C-Players” mantra, but maintaining an A-Players-only team isn’t easy.
A-Player leaders get a lot of fundamentals right, but invariably make mistakes and hire some B-Player leaders who have an amplified effect and tend to hang around months or even years longer than they should. When B-Players are left in place, it kills organizational performance in that functional area and spills out to tangent functions. The more senior the B-Player, the larger the magnitude of the fallout.
You can try to win, or you can try to make people happy, but you can’t do both
Paradoxically, trying to win leads also to making people happy, because people are happy when they win. Trying to make people happy in ways other than helping them win ends up making them unhappy, because they are less focused on winning, which is the thing that makes them happy.
Until startups are profitable while growing, they are burning down cash against a finite runway that’s usually less than two years away. As a result, it’s important to have a realistic plan at all times for what it will take to i) raise additional capital, ii) become profitable, or iii) fall back to m&a or wind down.
Double opt in intros are obsolete and too slow for the pace of modern business. Just make the intro.