May 20, 2007 Leave a comment
It is easy to start out with a bunch of friends, but it is quite difficult to last the distance. Especially, when the going gets tough. Here are some basic traits to look for when starting out.
Sharing the same passion:
You and your friends might be excited about a brilliant new idea. But not everyone will be able to believe in it with the same passion as you do. It is imperative that your friends and you are following the same dream, the same vision and have the same passion. Otherwise, sooner or later there will be trouble. In my personal experiences of starting up businesses, I have found on many occasions the startup teams move apart after a few months as they do not share the same passion and have different ideas of how to go about their business. This experience was also confirmed by other budding entrepreneurs.
If the partners do not share the same passion, vision and goals, there is every likely hood that the organization will move apart. Or for worse, will crash even before taking off. This must be cleared up and should be revisited on a regular basis. Visions and goals do change as the market dynamics change. But what ever the case, always discuss and get on the same page and be as inspired as everyone on the team.
Define clear cut roles:
In a startup environment, usually everyone does everything. But still, there needs to be some definition of roles and some responsibility assigned to everyone. One of the team members could take over the software development aspects, the other could manage the sales and marketing. A third could be the finance guru on the team. Defining what one will contribute will bring about major productivity gains for your startup. But make sure that the roles are not just on paper and are actually implemented. A good way to have a check is to have regular meetings and see how everyone is doing and contributing.
There will be occasions when one of the members is not contributing enough. It is imperative at the early stage for everyone to be working over 110%. Hence, help the person move ahead and help him/her understand the role. Maybe, try reassigning the person and give him new roles within the organization. See what he/she is good at and make him do that.
If the person still does not improve, it is time to cut him off. Send him on vacation or move him out. A dead and non contributing partner will only slow things down and will cause the organization to slow down as well. His contribution will not be productive for the organization and can also cause other employees to lose focus as well.
This cannot be said enough. There are times, when the teams stop communicating completely. They tend not to share their feelings, especially if they have some wood over others. It is imperative that the members communicate and share all issues and problems openly. Keeping everything inside will not help and will only bring about further cynicism.
Strong communications is the foundation for a strong and growing organization. Have regular meetings and sessions and regular exchanges of emails, phone calls etc to be on the same page. The sales team should know what the software team is doing. The software team should know what the management wants and what are the targets and deadlines. And so on and so forth.