The Perfect Skill Set of the Founding Team
Traditionally it has been thought that a perfect founding team consists of 2-4 people. The ideal mix should consist of one person who covers all things having to do with the business side, and the rest of the team members who have strong backgrounds in creating technology.
The engineers should ideally have different backgrounds within tech. One may be more of a back-end server engineer who would be in charge of architecture, while another could write business logic and focus more on the user-facing part of the application. As for the business person, she has to stand on her head doing all the non-tech tasks (legal issues, business docs, business networking, lead generation, light accounting, etc.) possible to allow the engineers to focus on building the core product.
Hunt for the Right Partners
If the world was perfect, I'd suggest finding motivated A-players who buy into your idea and are willing to work crazy hours, side by side with you to grow the idea into a company. And each entrepreneur should really have that as their goal. But how does one know whether the people who join their team will deliver? People often say they will do certain things, or that they can do various things, but cannot or just do not. They may have the best intentions in mind, but few people can work in a highly-demanding and unstructured environment for a long time; especially without a regular salary. So the entrepreneur's job becomes to quickly weed out people who don't deliver and keep ones who do.
My view is that everyone should be given a chance, and be put into a position to succeed, even if it is a long shot. People should also be given creative freedom and empowered to use as much of their talents as possible. At the same time, to ensure you do not waste your time, let them prove themselves by assigning immediate tasks and see for yourself how they will perform. This will help you weed out bad partners and keep the right ones.
Here are some specific traits to look for in a partner:
* Sharing of vision
* Can-do attitude
* You respect them as people and professionals
If any of these qualities are not there, see it as a big red flag.
Appreciating Your Partners
Once you do find good partners, recognize that working for equity is much more difficult than for a regular salary, and appreciate their work. At the same time make sure they always have momentum-building, challenging but not overwhelming tasks. For your part, I will add a few more items to the list above:
* Help them whenever possible
* Don't overwhelm them with large and/or multiple tasks
* Don't make them do low-priority tasks
* Appreciate them (I know I am repeating myself, but this is important)
Other than cash, some underrated currencies you can give to the people you work with are:
* Credit and Recognition
* Excitement and feeling of momentum
* Feel-good and knowing they are appreciated
* Make sure they learn new skills
* Building rewarding relationships
* Engage them in doing something interesting
Granted, none of the "currencies" mentioned above trade one to one with the U.S Dollar. My view is that good leaders ensure that their partners and employees get plenty of above items before actual cash starts coming in. It will also help you strengthen the team.