Founder Skills and Dynamics

Pie Founders (L to R): Jeff Hansen, John Barnhill, & Drew Banks

Pie Founders (Left to Right): Jeff Hansen, John Barnhill, Drew Banks

Choosing a founding team is like casting a movieyou should think twice before casting Sacha Baron Cohen for a dramatic portrayal of Malcolm X. Seriously, while The Idea is of the utmost importance, the skill sets and dynamics of the founding team are what will take you from the unformulated business plan to the funded start-up. Top 10 important founder skill sets/dynamics:

  1. Entrepreneurial Expertise
    There is SO much you learn the first time around the entrepreneurial block. If you haven’t been there, find someone who has. See my Serial Entrepreneur post for more on this.
  2. Fundraising Contacts/Ability
    If you can’t self-fund, you usually need external investment to start a company. Fundraising is about reaching out to existing contacts (rarely do you raise $ from cold calls) and closing investment deals. Pull someone on board who can do both.
  3. At Least One Left Brainer /Myers Briggs J
    While the right brain may come up with The Idea, the left brain executes it. Without an implementation plan and the discipline to carry it out, The Idea withers and dies.
  4. Wherewithal to Forgo Salary for an Indefinite Period
    Wherewithal in either the financially independent sense or in an I’ll-do-what-it-takes-even-if-I-have-to-sell-my-firstborn sense.
  5. Ability to Recruit Talent and Structure Creative Contracts
    The ability to quickly attract A-level talent is critical, especially if you don’t have the skill sets on the founding team to execute The Idea. Also, if you don’t have sufficient $ to pay full compensation, being able to structure creative payment terms (e.g. equity, etc.) is key.
  6. Ex-Lawyer or Access to Discounted Legal Counsel
    There is so much legal @#@%# involved in starting a company, it really helps to have access to discounted legal counsel from the get-go.
  7. Ability to Maintain Relationships
    There WILL be good times and bad. It is likely that you will fight, insult one another, and repeatedly throw the towel in before coming back for more. If that first towel-throwing means you walk out the door for good, you’re probably not of the right ilk to be an entrepreneur.
  8. Charismatic Speaker
    Someone has to lead the pitch. It’s best if that person can woo his/her audience with a golden tongue. If s/he’s a PowerPoint expert, so much the better.
  9. Fast Extemporaneous Thinker
    Someone has to answer questions on the fly. It’s best if that person can think fast on his/her feet. If s/he’s a walking encyclopedia of industry-relevant data, so much the better.
  10. Passion, Intelligence, and Confidence
    I group these three together as a triumvirate because either two without the third can be lackluster, yet the three combined is unmistakable.


Below is a full list of Entrepreneurial Reluctance/e-Publishing Reticence lessons from my Top 10s blog post.

Entrepreneurial Reluctance

1. The Catalyst(s)
2. Good $ vs. Bad $
3. Risk Reduction
4. The Network Effect
5. Been There, Done That: The Serial Entrepreneur
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. Founder Skills and Dynamics
10. Perseverance or Blinders

e-Publishing Reticence

1. False Deadlines
2. Readers & Editrs
3. Genre Opportunities
4. Target Marketing
5. Self-Promotion
6. Creating you Literary Brand
7. The Indie-zation of Literature
8. The Placenta Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour


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