Building a company isn’t that different from climbing a big mountain. You need people helping you traverse treacherous paths and to lift you up when you fall. That is why most startups need to enlist co-founders and build a strong management team from the outset.
Research that my team conducted on the backgrounds and success factors of entrepreneurs in high-growth industries revealed that management teams were the second most important factor in startup success. Entrepreneurs ranked these higher than luck, financing and education. Ask any venture capitalist and they will tell you that they consider the experience and completeness of the founding team to be a more important factor in their investment decision than the technology that is being built.
- Wadhwa, Vivek, Aggarwal, Raj, Holly, Krisztina and Salkever, Alex, Making of A Successful Entrepreneur: Anatomy of an Entrepreneur Part II (November 17, 2009)
Yes, you can build a management team after you start the firm, so these managers aren’t always co-founders. But the sooner you get other team members who can complement your skills, the more likely your company will succeed.
How many co-founders should you have? It really depends on the business you’re building. If you’re building something simple, like an iPhone app, then you may not need co-founders. But with anything more sophisticated — for example, if you’re trying to build a scalable software business — you will need marketing, sales and finance experts. And you may even need a lawyer to help you out of trouble.
So don’t make the journey alone. Take some Sherpas with you on your difficult trek.