Success factors of a founding team

Posted on Nov 19, 2015 in Eli Fathi: My Take on Business | By: Eli Fathi

This blog highlights the key traits of a winning team. It is the second installment of what I’m referring to as the ‘Success Factors Trilogy’ and focuses on success factors associated specifically with a founding team. The first article of the trilogy focused on personal success factors and the fundamental indicators that help to identify an individual as a high performer. The third part of the trilogy will cover success factors as they relate to a company.

When building a team, we tend to look first at the individual characteristics of each team member. One by one, we evaluate potential team members for traces of talent and work ethic. However, similar to trying to solve a mathematical equation, while only one variable is technically necessary, it may not be sufficient to solve the equation. Talent and hard work are valuable characteristics but are only the first building blocks of creating a winning team. From my experience, the following factors are necessary to cultivate an ecosystem that enables members of a founding group to becoming a highly effective and successful team.

Success-factors-of-a-founding-team

  • Complementary Skills - Each member of the team should possess a diverse skill; management, sales, marketing, engineering, financial prowess or customer service. It’s extremely rare for a single person to have all of these skills however, if you can assemble a team that, as a whole, encompasses such diversity each member will blend cohesively and feel an equal sense of worth for their contributions.
  • Obsession with success –Individual or team success will not happen in a straight line. The team will experience ups and downs, especially in the early stages of company evolution. It is vital that each member of the team exhibits the dedication and total commitment to achieving individual goals and contributes to the long term objectives of the team.
  • Adaptability - There is a high likelihood that during the early life of the company, the founding team may experience external market and technological constraints which may make it necessary to pivot. The founding team must be able and willing to accept rapid changes to accommodate changing market conditions.
  • Team players - There is no I in team and definitely no room for a Prima Donna in the group! Individual contributors must “check their ego at the door” and focus on the team goals. As stated by Vince Lombardi, the legendary NFL Coach of the Green Bay Packers: “Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
  • Solution Oriented/Problem Solvers – I cannot stress enough how important this trait is for the whole founding team to enable the company to evolve from its fledgling position, to completing a MVP (Minimally Viable Product), to initial sales and then to scaling. The ability to solve problems along the way in an efficient and effective fashion will increase the company’s ability to succeed.
  • Dream BIG – In order to create focus and drive for the founding team, it is important to define, at the very onset of the company launch, an overarching BIG dream that everyone can rally around. I think American writer William Arthur Ward said it best when he said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

I truly believe that the above factors are the secret sauce for determining a team’s success and failure. Each member of the team should ask themselves whether they have seen these factors in action and reflect on how they have impacted their team’s success.

BizGuide # 32 Are You a Rock Mover or a Castle Builder?

This old fable talks about a person who walks by a worksite and observes 3 workers moving boulders. The person stops and questions each of the workers for an understanding of what they are doing. The first worker replies that they are moving rocks. The second person says that they are building walls. The third worker proclaims that they are building a big castle! You can read the full story here: http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/personal-excellence-are-you-building-a-castle/

Similar to the boulder fable, in the famous speech in front of the US Congress on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy proposed to the people of the United States of America that, “this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” The country rallied behind this ambitious goal and prevailed.

http://www.space.com/11772-president-kennedy-historic-speech-moon-space.html.

The key take away from these two tales is that, with support from a dynamic team, an individual can determine how high they want to reach; whether it is a moonshot or lower. It is all about the desire to dream big and the ability to execute. Correspondingly, a founding team can set a lofty goal and achieve it by having the whole team believe in the dream and committing to achieving it.

Stay tuned for part three in the ‘Success Factors Trilogy’. In the meantime, please visit my blog for the first instalment in the series; http://www.l-spark.com/news/blog/personal-success-factors/

Edited by Jamie Keeley, Event and Community Manager, L-SPARK.

Eli Fathi

Eli Fathi

CEO of EFEI, building the next Start-up. Co-founder & co-CEO of Fluidware Corporation from 2008 to 2014 until the acquisition of the company by SurveyMonkey & worked on integration until April 2015. An Internet software company, Fluidware offered Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback with 2 products: Fluidsurveys; online survey tool & FluidReview; online Application management tool. In 1986, Eli founded Applied Silicon Inc. Canada to provide engineering consulting services. Following an investment from Newbridge Networks in 1996, the company (Telexis) shifted focus to video over IP solutions, growing to 180 employees. Telexis was acquired in May 2000 & became March Networks. Eli also founded in 2002 OrbitIQ Inc., a business accelerator company with globally-deployed channels to market. Eli is involved with the community & high tech community in particular by serving on a number of Boards including: Community Foundation Ottawa (CFO) starting in 2012. Eli also serves on the Board of C-Com, a publicly traded company on the TSX-V since 2007. Served on the Ottawa Center for Research & Innovation (OCRI) from 1999 to 2007, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce (OCC) from 2004 to 2009, the Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) Board from 2008 to 2012 & 1 year in 2009 on the Editorial Board of the Ottawa Business Journal. In 2004 was Recipient of the Order of Ottawa for Economic Development, & was the Recipient of OCRI 2004 Civic Entrepreneur of the Year award. Since 2008, Eli organized & chaired yearly Corporate & Community Social Responsibility Conferences at Algonquin College in Ottawa www.ccsr-conference.com. Eli Co-authored a book on Software project management & had 12 publications.

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