Questions

What is your advice for building a team of like-minded individuals to help start your business?

What did you do to find a cofounder or the team that you are working with right now?

7answers

I'm a feelance CFO and I work actively with early stage companies. I've been at this for almost 30 years. Some of my current and recent clients wrestle actively with this very questions.

My advice is to have the tough conversations right up front, early in the team building process. This usually consists of answering questions like, "who's in charge and what does that really mean," "who gets how much of the company and when and in exchange for what," "what are you, you and you really bringing to the table in terms of skills and cash," and "who is really in a life situation that will allow them to sustain their commitment to the business?"

Any team that can get through these questions can get through the trials of surviving startup.

I'm happy to talk with you directly about these issues and, in particular, to help look at them through a strategic financial planning lens.


Answered 4 years ago

Go to networking events to meet people and have conversations. You want to find people having passion towards the ideas you propose, having entrepreneur mindset and having different strengths that compliment with yours. At the same time, you want to protect your IP. I will be happy to have a conversation with you.


Answered 4 years ago

Honestly, I would have everyone do a personality profile test to see what you are really working with. People may look great on paper, but when it gets tough and decisions need to be made they may fold or pass on the responsibility which will not help. You my want to bring in a neutral party to evaluate everyone individually and then how they would best work in your company. I would love to speak with you about this.


Answered 4 years ago

The only companies I have started were with people I already knew. So, unless you can think of 1 or 2 people within your "sphere" that you want to tap on the shoulder, it's best to go out and meet people your area of business interest. Around Boston, there are numerous high tech and biotech entrepreneurial communities and networking events. Depending on where you live, there might be the same. If you don't live in a thriving entrepreneurial area (like Cambridge/Boston, the Bay Area, NYC), the networking is doable but a lot harder.

Send me a separate note and depending on where you live, I might be able to point you at some communities.

Best of luck.


Answered 4 years ago

Having built several teams, there are a few things to do before you start hiring. Identify what you want to build, what is the culture you are trying to build, be specific, don't just say casual, efficient, fun. The more details the better. What is the expectations of a new hire? Dress code, hours, delivery, social events, hobbies, etc... I've learned that side projects and hobbies allow you to learn more of what people like to do rather than the interview answer. It is also helpful to ask existing employees what they think your culture is. An executive perspective is often skewed, unfortunately. The people who currently work with you need to be candid. It is critical to build trust early to get the right people. Other things to consider, work life balance (what is your priority? ), food accessibility, alcohol in the office, smokers vs non smokers, break schedule, problem solving skills, persistence to a problem. Good luck in your team building!


Answered 4 years ago

Your team is going to make you or break you. First, take inventory of your skills and assess how much capital you have (technical, social and financial). Then, assess what complimentary capital you'll need (i.e. bringing on a technical co-founder if you're not technical). Once you've accounted for the technical aspects, start thinking of what type of cultural attributes you would like in your team (very critical). Finally, write the description down and then start recruiting. Take your time and begin with your network first, and then start expanding to 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

Once your team is on-board, put together an operating agreement (jointly if possible) and Implement a 6 or 12 month cliff. This will protect your business from any risks if things go sideways for any reason.

Take your time with putting together a team. You're going to be married to these folks for a long time.


Answered 4 years ago

Though I am a sole proprietor, I have a team of colleagues that I call upon often and who energize my vision. I think this is key.

First you have to determine what "like-minded" is. To help, I want to ask you some questions.

Do you want folks who regard your business just like you do? If that is what like-mindedness looks to you, you'll have to introduce your business in a way that each individual can take ownership. The difficulty for most founders of businesses, I being one, is not micromanaging the situation but allowing them latitude, trusting that they are equally invested. That can be scary.

Or do you want folks who are mini-representations of you? They have the same strengths, temperaments, personality as you. If this is the "like-mindedness" you are pursuing then I would caution you. The strength of the team is the harmony of their unique contributions to the whole. This adds depth and breadth to your vision. No two people sound exactly alike, yet their tones blend well. It'll be your responsibility as the leader to foster collaboration versus competition. It won't be easy. But oh, it will be worth it.

I would love to assist you in getting more clear in figuring out what team would best serve your vision and mission. Contact me.


Answered 4 years ago

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