Going into a startup, founders have a lot to worry about. Startups have an incredibly high failure rate—a whopping 90%—because of the unique and vast range of challenges their founders face. Founders may not have many solutions to get through those obstacles and often end up learning the harder (and more painful) way to do things, especially when they are going at it for the first time.
It can be challenging for startups to prioritize which fire to address first, the next best steps to take or how to make decisions based on experience without that experience to work with. This challenge is the reason establishing a board should be at the top of that priority list. When startups prioritize founding a board with both inside and outside members, they increase their chances of success.
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Finding the right board members for your company is an important task. Here’s what to consider.
Once upon a time, a new startup rushed through the process of bringing board members into their company. Its leaders were young and inexperienced. They went through the process without third-party guidance or a deep dive interview with candidates. They met smooth-talking members looking to be partners and were sold on something grand, but what the candidates delivered was the total opposite.
The partners’ experience was less than they let on. Their mission, vision and values were out of alignment with those of the existing members. Things quickly started to fall apart and the startup founders suffered through years of pain before the company eventually dissolved.
I’ve heard this story many times in my job guiding board formation. So many leaders lament that fewer mistakes would have been made if they had just had connections to more of the right people who matched up with their company’s core values, ambitions and guidance to vet those candidates.
“But none of that happened,” they tell me. “We signed papers and got screwed.”
Not many founders consider their board’s composition, but taking the time and care to cultivate a board of inside and outside perspectives across diverse experiences can be a company’s number one predictor of success. Building a board is a big deal for your company’s success and must be done correctly. Here’s how to do it right.
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I believe executive talent is the most important aspect to look for when hiring or promoting leaders. A company’s leadership affects an entire organization and can either motivate teammates and provide them with purpose and direction or cause them to leave. Having a leadership team full of people with executive talent can help bring your company to new heights, but only if you nurture that talent in both yourself and in others.
Not everyone may know executive talent when they see it, but there are some common traits that anyone can easily identify. I believe good executives have no ego. They understand the value of constant learning and always seek out new ways for continuous improvement. Someone with too big of an ego may be unable to realize what it takes to be a great mentor or be mentored. If they think they know everything, they leave no room for others to teach them. And if they view teaching as a waste of time, they’re unlikely to offer their guidance to others. A culture of teaching and mentoring within a company can create an environment that nourishes executive skills and leadership, which is the key to exploiting that talent on a team.
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