It took me three founding teams. Yes three, before I had a team that clicked the first founding team. Even though we had worked together previously, we didn’t mesh as a team.
The second founding team just wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I built the third founding team that I got it right. I wish I knew then what I knew now, and you get to benefit from what I’ve learned.
So here are four steps you can take to fix founder problems before they happen:
Step number one: Pay attention to cultural fit.
Before you add a co-founder, you think you’ve found the perfect co-founder. They check all the boxes in terms of skill and ability. However, you’re not sure because the person you’re thinking of bringing on seems a little off to you, and you wonder what will this person be like to work with?
On the other hand, it’s so hard to find a competent co-founder, so you’re unsure of what to do. I know it’s painful, but you can’t bring this person on as your co-founder because it’s very unlikely someone that doesn’t fit your culture will work out.
You need someone that’s a fit. So what does a cultural fit look like? Here’s my pre-screening list before you bring on any founder:
A. You agree on the company vision.
This seems self-explanatory, but if you want to go north and the other person wants to go south or even northwest, the odds of this person working out are low. So have the tough conversations about what your potential co-founder sees as the vision for the company.
See if they are bought into your vision. Find another co-founder if there isn’t a match.
B. You agree on how the company will be financed.
You wouldn’t think financing would be an issue, but it is an issue. My first co-founder, “John”, felt we should raise less money than I felt we should raise and he quit.
I could have saved myself a lot of pain and time if I’d have had the conversation about fundraising and financing before I agreed to bring John on as my co-founder.