As the founder of a venture-backed startup I tend to read a lot of blogs by other founders, often far ahead of where I am now, and investors, who invest in companies like ours. One of my long-time favorite blogs that has been a daily read of mine for a long time now is Mark Suster’s blog, Both Sides of the Table.
What I really like about Mark is that he’s not only a VC (and well known for being a great one at that!) but he was also a founder (twice) and had two solid exits. One of my all-time favorite posts from Mark is from February of 2013 – How to Configure Your Startup Team. If you don’t take the time to read it, then just read the first paragraph here because it is absolute gold:
“I am fond of quoting that about 70% of my investment decision of an early-stage company is the team. My rationale is simple: everything goes wrong and only great teams can respond to competitors, markets, funding environments, staff departures, PR disasters and the like.” (Source – Mark Suster)
I saw the power of a great team in real-time while working as an early employee at Sonos and while we’re yet to have everything go wrong at our company (knock on wood), if we do I know that having a great team is the key to getting through it.
As you’re building your company it can be easy to focus on hiring people with specific skills or past job experience. While skills are important, attitude and the ability to execute is more important. Skills, degrees, past jobs, those are all important – but what you really want to know is – will the person you’re hiring be there for you in the best of times and in the worst of times? If you’re not sure, check references, then check them again because like Mark Suster says, 70% of his decision is team so 70% of your decision should be about what kind of a team player you’re getting.