You've seen and heard the story before: young student has great idea, creates a platform, drops out of university, and makes millions on the idea. But what many stories neglect to mention is that the young student, no matter how bright, passionate, committed, daring, creative or energetic, does not have the ability or capability to create, develop and run a startup completely on his own. So what about the co-founders? Of course they get a mention. . . if they were in at the ground floor. Co-founders seem to stop being co-founders if they didn't co-found the startup. . . which I guess kind of makes sense. So what about the founding team?
In many cases, the founding team is put together at or after the initial idea. They are often the ones who start to act on the idea, adding flesh to the bones (so to speak), and creating a framework by which the company can grow and develop. They are the ones who work all hours to refine and develop and idea, often without immediate rewards or compensation, in the hope that success (and the benefits) will come later on.
But equally important are the first hires of the company, those who take a risk to join a fledging organisation because they believe in and are excited by the ideas and founders. Startups are not normally secure and stable employment in the early days, so taking a bit of leap of faith behind the founders is what is needed in the first employees.
An interesting point is that startup employees are often much the same as startup founders. . . they are maybe just slightly more risk averse, or don't have an idea they want to pursue at this point. But the key traits or characteristics that define entrepreneurs, such as creativity, resilience, determination and perseverance, are also traits of startup employees. And you need your employees to have these traits, in order to help the company to grow and develop. Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot) summarises the necessity of having really good startup employees:
Great start-up employees focus on the core mission of the company. They build products customers want. They meet customer needs. They help other employees succeed. The best people don't just bide their time while they're at work. They squeeze as much value out of that time as they possibly can in furthering the organization's mission. They try to make tomorrow better than today for everyone around them – because that’s what they love to do.
So although starting a startup looks cool and fun and will make tons of cash (ummm. . . maybe. . . ), don't forget that to be truly successful, a startup will need a team of dedicated founders and employees who believe in the idea. Never forget, there's no "I" in startup!