Startup: More team challenges

The reasons teams implode have nothing to do with malicious intent. It is, in fact, more to do with how team members view various elements that doing a startup involve.  Challenges relating to teams cannot be captured in one blog.  Here are more reasons why . . .

Bloat: Some founders grow into their roles as the startup grows. Others bloat to their new positions. Getting founders who are eager to learn and evolve is a very tricky component of the startup team, since there is a real risk of success going to your head, particularly before success happens.

Culture: Culture within any startup percolates down from the startup team. If there is a clash or a laid-back ‘large company’ culture of 40 hour weeks, it is very difficult to change this or become competitive, where your competitors are sleeping in office to make it work.

Hands-on: Tech teams within any startup often come from research. They tend to be more focussed on saving money and doing every tech activity themselves. However, this risks creating fully customised equipment which cannot be easily replicated.

Hierarchy: Often, startup founders include those who’ve been relatively senior in their previous lives. This particularly includes large-company managers or research leaders. These people have likely led teams of younger people. Sometimes, it goes against the grain for them to consider younger startup founders as peers or to report to them. If not aired early, this can fester and strain the fragile balance in a startup.

Exit: What exactly does it mean to get an exit for you as the founder? It’s more than likely that your co-founders have a different perception of exit. With large company valuations and the buzz about unicorns, wannabe entrepreneurs start startups in whatever happens to be the buzz, specifically with a view to selling. By the time the startup starts, the buzz has often passed, and they have to run it. Difference in opinion between co-founders between what constitutes the right time to exit results in friction and destroys value or the company, which may be on the verge of getting to the black.

Rich or king: Different founders have different long-term objectives of how they see themselves in the startup as it evolves. If the objective of a founder is to have a certain position, he could end up becoming the bottleneck that ultimately limits the startup’s growth.

Spouse / partner: Startup founders underestimate the importance of having the partner onboard on their vision and aware of the challenges to come. The revenue almost always takes much longer than anticipated and the even after revenue begins, the founder is the last ones to get any. The partner thus needs to be aware of the financial strain and the fact that the full burden or getting food on the table falls on the shoulders of the partner. As they say about holidays, the best ones are when you have a nice home to come back to.

Success: Co-founders have to ask themselves how they would define success? In other words, how rich is rich? Difference in perceptions between the co-founders regarding what rich is has a great impact on whether the startup gets sold or becomes a player.

As Sean Parker (apparently) said to Mark; “A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A billion dollars!”

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