Startups. We know the mantra: Team matters. Is this philosophy exaggerated? Overrated? Cliché? No. Team is the only thing that matters.
Whatever you’re working on now, the half-life of innovation is so rapid now that your product will soon be out-of-date. Your existence is irrelevant unless you continue rapid innovation.
Your ability to keep up is dependent on having a great team of differing skills. Individuals don’t build great companies, teams do.
The nature of the Internet and global knowledge is such that even if you’ve stumbled on to a super interesting area of innovation there will be many teams tackling the same problem at exactly the same time. If you develop something novel that catches a spark you’ll have the world gunning for you over night. In this globally connected world product leads disappear in nano-seconds.
The company with the best team on the field will win. The team which hires the most talented people, channels them in the most productive configuration and gets the most output from their unique capabilities.
So how exactly do you assemble such a team?
1. Only hire A players
There’s an old saying, “A players beget A players. B players beget C players.” Why? Well, A players are discerning and tend to only want to join somewhere where they perceive other A players are. B players tend to have slightly more self-confidence issues so they tend to hire people slightly worse than themselves – thus C teams.
Is this a universal truism? Of course not. But it is general pattern matching. And it’s why VCs tend to look for uber-talented founding teams. We know that if you start with ho-hum founders you’d less likely to assemble a world-class team.
So if you’re trying to scale your team be focused on quality. Don’t sacrifice. Don’t hire too quickly just because you raised money or because you feel pressure to make things happen. The minute you compromise on quality you’ve already begun the descent.