Killing Things at Startups

My friend Auren has a good post on a very important responsibility for entrepreneurs:  the expedient killing of stuff that is not bringing value.  He summarizes the issue:

Being able to kill things early is essential to the long-term
growth and success of any company. But recognizing that you should be
searching for things to kill is the first step to building a better
company.

As your company grows, you’ll have more things – both big and small
– that either weigh down growth or are not core to long-term success.
The companies that work proactively to get rid of these issues and
devote resources to the areas that matter are the ones that will be
able to remain nimble, innovative, and win.

This is also interesting to me as a VC.  Usually, we are not in a position to make the killing decisions at our portfolio companies.  So, our job is to prod our entrepreneur partners in their constant pruning of their organizations, and provide the necessary encouragement for them to take action.

A Players

423px-Michael_Jordan
The success of any startup, in my opinion, hinges on the quality of the team.  This is a statement I can make very comfortably.  The trick is gauging the quality.  That's usually tough, especially since, as a VC, we get to have relatively little time to spend with the team.  So I find myself looking for clues in spotting a great team.

My friend Auren has a great post on the common traits of A players.  To summarize, A players tend to:

  • Be Relentlessly Resourceful
  • Work Around Rules Encourage Mediocrity – So you have to avoid those who try to box them in through these types of rules
  • Good at Getting Back to People 
  • Show up Early vs Late
  • Be Founders of Something
  • Follow-up
  • Work harder and smarter

Of course, this is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusive.  But, I view my job to be centered around spotting the right talent, more than anything else.  And I know Auren is very good at attracting great players around him. So I think this list is very helpful.