I had a really fun conversation with a founder of a great company with fantastic potential today and we covered many topics, one of which prompted me to write this article. Securing money and investors are not always the biggest issue keeping startup founders awake at night. Assembling the right team from the very beginning can be a much bigger issue. I’ve previously talked about the traits you may want to look for in a possible co-founder and have covered the importance of a demographically and culturally diverse team. Today I will get down to the basics of how to start assembling your team from scratch. There are many perspectives on this subject, but I wanted to share with you what I have seen work.
Let’s start by debunking one common analogy – building a team is not like putting a puzzle together. The number one rule I’ve learned from the best startup teams is that one trick ponies need not apply. In early to mid-stage startups, generalists should compose the majority of your team. There are two kinds of generalists: those who are Jacks-of-All-Trades and masters of one or two areas, and those who are masters of none (general management, which you don’t want).
Here are the rules of thumb I like for assembling a team:
Lastly, remember that there are always exceptions to every rule. I like to say that what makes you an expert is recognizing an exception for every best practice or rule of thumb.
Illustration credit: LuMaxArt