What Kenyan entrepreneurs should know
08 February 2016, 15:46
We live in a world that likes to glorify one person for what should be a group achievement. When a sports club wins a trophy, many people credit the coach or a star player; when a country develops, we shower praises on the leader; when a business becomes hugely profitable, we label the CEO as a genius and start worshiping him or her. But if you are an entrepreneur, these two people are very ideal to your achievement:
Typically, the originator of the idea is termed the founder. The other person in the businesses is the co-founder. This is a critical role that is surprisingly overlooked.
A good co-founder will have the ability to inspire others. Exactly how they do this will vary from person to person, but in the end, the co-founder inspires people in their various job roles, whether in finance, technology, marketing, or something else.
Consider a co-founder as your right hand man or woman. One way to pick a good co-founder is to ask yourself; if you and your co-founder are leading the charge for war, will others follow you into battle? The right person can combine forces with you and get everybody in the team to move.
Because of the importance of this role, you should have a lengthy relationship with a co-founder prior to founding. That way you will appreciate their unique skills, style, and ego.
Humans tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us. Even our genes play a role in the kind of people we seek relationships with. With founders, the goal is to find the right amount of similarity that makes work possible but allows for useful disagreements. Balance is key.
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The next to your co-founder, you are going to work with several other people as teammates.
Naturally, most people tend to respect the CEO, Chief technical officer etc, but no matter how strong an idea you have, the fate of your startup ultimately rests on the shoulders of your team. Remember it can take just one weak member to bring down your entire business. That is why they say a chain is only as strong as its weakest point.
Last year I met a young entrepreneur, Alex Mativo of E-lab Kenya and during our interview he told me that he has been involved in many projects. He honestly admitted that he cannot do what people seem to think he can do without the team.
“All our successes are 99.9% down to my team.”
Just imagine a company develops powerful software for chemical engineers. After launching the product, the company recruits a first employee to manage the office and answer the phone. If this new recruit knows nothing about the customers or the product, and starts talking to prospects, the company will lose business because of a weak team member. In any startup, the TEAM is important.
In the end, entrepreneurship is a journey that is often shared with other people. Choosing who you surround yourself with as an entrepreneur is critical, but choosing who you will found your business with is paramount.
Co-founders are the foundation block that rocks most failed companies and strengthens winning ones. Teammates are the parts of the engine that get the work done. With a solid foundation block and good parts, you can drive your way to success.
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