Team is one of the most important aspect and reason of start-up success and failure. Many founders fail to find right team members or start-up team parts away after working 3 to 6 months. At a same time many founders start their entrepreneurial journey by assuming that they can do everything and they don’t needs other people to succeed. This is a completely flawed assumption at your end. It’s a complete team game and not an individual show.
Per my experience working with-in start-ups, following are the attributes of a winning team:-
- They have a clear leader: – Though 3 to 4 people have started working together, there should be one leader. Leader’s responsibility is to take all of them along in this long journey. He communicates with each team members continuously. Leader looks at points which can lead to conflicts within team and resolve them. Leader communicates and discuss long term vision to each founding team member day in and out and how possibility they will reach their.
- They all respect and trust each other: – Building trust and respect with each other takes time. And special efforts are required from each of the founding team members to enhance the trust. Talking frequently, spending more and more time with each other helps in enhancing the trust.
- They all have complementary skills: – When complementary skills are there in the team, each of the team member’s knows what they are responsible for. This leads to lesser conflicts within the team and brings in more focus.
- Everyone willing to share the pie of wealth with others (if at all its generated down the line). Winning team members understand that sharing wealth will lead to creating a larger impact for themselves, for society and world.
- There is no one who is bossy or dictator: – Many founders are inspired by Steve Jobs thinking that being bossy help in getting success. Understand that you are not Steve but you should be learning from Steve Jobs. Being bossy turn off people and creative negative work environment. Be humble and be yourself.
- Every team member takes decision based on data rather than emotions or egos.
- Team is focused on market need, customers and cash all the time:- Winning teams are always focused on what are the gaps in market, how they can fill that gap quickly , how they can reach out to early adopters/customers, how they can learn from customers what they want and how they can keep low cash outflow and can enhance revenue inflow.
- Sense of urgency is missing is either of team members: – Start-up is all about executing and executing it fast enough. If any of the team member don’t understand this, your are best candidate to get listed in list of failed start-ups.
As a founder and leader, you always and should be spending considerable time in communicating your vision and thoughts to your
- Co-founders ,
- Fellow team members and
- More importantly to your customers.
When I was leading my first startup, though I was talking to my customers , but I was not talking and giving required time to my co-founders and team members. I was talking on phone for few hours/minutes a day(we all were working from homes) and thought that all of us understood the vision and priorities. But I was wrong, we should have worked from same place alteast thrice a week to better understand each . And more then that I should have spent more time in listening to team member’s why they are not able to put 200% percent .Phones and emails are not right tools to communicate about vision, about understanding your team strengths and limitations. This has resulted in many problems and misunderstanding for long period. And end result was dis-engagement between founders and team member’s.
Not going to Work
This will Work
Another bigger problem is when you start thinking that “Customers don’t know what they want”. And you day in and out keep putting in efforts to improve your platform based on your understanding. And you keep assuming that one fine day customers will click on that “Pay” button and you will get your first revenue. Sorry my fellow entrepreneur, that is not going to happen. Talk to them, understand what problems they face on your platform, what they will pay for, how they want to pay for your product/service, and then pivot your platform and pricing model accordingly.
So stop bothering about whether platform building is on track(as per your understanding) or and start bothering about what your co-founders, your team members and your customers are saying.
This weekend I attended India’s largest start-up event. And has taken up few notes from the same.
Here are the high level notes:-
1) Key Ingredients for a startup to get funding from VC’s are
b. Initial Product
c. Some organic Transaction
2) Iterate fast and make sure you know metrics used to measure progress of your technology product. For example, for a web based B2C applications, its about “Unique Monthly Visitors”, “Bounce Rate” and “Real Transactions”. For a mobile app its MAU(Monthly active users). DAU(Daily active users) etc.For SAAS application, it’s about how many sales you have done. You should keep eagle’s key on these metrics and pivot based on the data coming from them.
3) Read this book if you are looking for raising funds for your start-up
4) To get connected with investor, reach them through founders they have already funded. Chase existing founders, and get your start-up recommended by them.
5) Many small paying customers is better pricing model compare to few customer paying a bit bigger amount of money. This is because it shows that business is less risky.
6) Perseverance is required for the product you have developed. Success is not going to come overnight. You will fail and you will fail multiple times. More you fail, odds of getting successful increases.
7) Understand your customer. Read about them, spend time with them and if possible sleep with them.
8) Ecommerce start-ups in India will fail as for how long you will be able to sale something below cost price.
9) For India, we need 10 million entrepreneurs to create required jobs in next 5 to 10 years.
10) Sharpen the gut feeling of your idea by listening to people around you.
11) As a founder, be a very good listener.
12) India is cost sensitive market. Playing volume game with low pricing is the strategy.
13) Most of the founder focus on chasing VC’s rather than focus on making a fundamentally strong business. Its about getting revenue, generating profit rather then getting into valuation game .
14) Its team and people that makes idea successful. Focus on creating A team and execute fast to increase probably of your success.
15) Its Mobile all the way. If mobile strategy is missing from your start-up, you are going to loss traffic, transactions and VC focus.