65% of startups fail due to people issues. It doesn’t have to be that way!
1. Cofounder issues
- Know who you’re going into business with
- Learn how to take ownership of problems – “it wasn’t what he was saying, it was how I was hearing it”
- Equity split: any animosity will grow over time
- Vesting: Get it right at the start. Protects founders, not punishs. Investors would set this up anyway.
- Split correctly when everyone is feeling good
- Venture Deals (book)
- Cofounder dynamics affect culture for the rest of the company
- Difficult Conversations (book)
2. Find great mentors
- Mental / emotional support
- Who you can talk to even when you can’t talk to anyone else
- Someone you can be vulnerable with
- Pro tip: don’t call them a mentor (at first)
3. Intellectual honesty
- “Shit that scares me to death” portion of quarterly board update. Shows you’re trying to be real. What’s being done to address the issues? Maybe your investors have insights.
- Honesty with self
4. Direct feedback
- Not become defensive when receiving feedback
- Usually given by people who care about you and your business
5. Right investors
- Understand their motivation and goals
- Can make your life a living hell if they want to
- If you receive multiple term sheets, go after best fit, not best valuation
- Accelerator? Do it as early as you can. Helps plug holes in your business. Talk to alumni from the accelerator to get a preview
- Were your born for this?
- Early on: enthusiasm & passion > skill
- Scaling the business: skills matter more
7. Self improvement and insatiable curiosity
- Always ask what you could be doing better