Your founders will make or break your startup. Find the right ones, and nothing will stop you. Find the wrong ones, and you’ll have a lot of free time, being unemployed and all.
Good founder teams are diverse – in many cases, the more diverse, the better. Having people from the same industry sector, or in the same job title, or even friends who share many of the same views and beliefs can stifle creativity.
So I’m going to give you the golden number for startup founders. It’s 3. There’s an exception to every rule though – and your own experience may cause you to prefer teams of 2 or 4. It’s a startup — the only rule is that there are no rules.
Maybe, you think, we should have three different people from three different job titles. Maybe we need someone who worked in marketing, someone from tech, and someone from finance. Not a terrible idea — but not the one that really matters. If your tech guy has to pick up some slack on the finance end, that’s the nature of a startup sometimes.
What matters even more is filling three roles: visionary, builder, and operator. You can fill these roles in any order, share them between founders, and a founder could even be two (or all three).
- Your visionary, the person who sees the great future that is possible.
- Your builder, who is in charge of creating the thing itself.
- Your operator, who makes numbers, figures, and projections line up.
Each of your founders’ roles serve to provide complementary skillsets which are able to collectively analyze and solve new problems. When considering a direction a startup might go, a visionary might pitch a big-picture direction. The builder can break this direction into smaller pieces that can actually be built, and an operator will examine whether or not the pitch makes financial sense.
Unlike most of the other things we pick up as we build an early-stage company, these personality types aren’t necessarily something that’s possible to train or to learn on the fly. An individual’s personality, and the way they think about problems, is enough to lump them into one of the three boxes above.
Which founder personality are you?
You might be a visionary if you see yourself managing your team’s personalities and playing referee in discussions. You write first on the whiteboard, and you’ve always got an answer to any question about the product (visionaries usually lead pitches). If you have a clear vision of what your successful product might look like, but you also know the steps to take to make that a reality, you might actually be a builder. And if your idea of a great time is arguing about whether or not any of these big ideas are actually possible at all, you might be an operator.