It is easy to attribute the success of new businesses to the drive and creativity of founders. Think Facebook or Tesla, and how frequently Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk are mentioned to represent the company in a sentence.
And yet, research shows that single founders are less likely to be successful at scaling a company than cofounder teams. One reason for this tendency is that teams can combine a multitude of personal characteristics that are correlated with company performance – characteristics that are unlikely to be found in a single person.
So which personality traits on a founding team tend to drive the growth of new ventures?
A recent study by the School of Business of the George Washington University directly measured the relationship between the founders’ personality traits and employment growth at the new firm for the first time, and they found that found that proactivity is key. New venture teams whose members were more proactive had higher annual employment growth. On the other hand, the study found that diversity in teams’ educational backgrounds could hold back success.
Key policy implications for entrepreneurs and policy makers include the importance of prioritizing teams of cofounders over single founders, selecting new venture team members with higher levels of proactivity, and of developing proactivity in entrepreneur support programs. Additionally, the study suggests that having openness to different perspectives is crucial if new ventures want want to benefit from diversity in educational backgrounds.
Please click here to access the full paper.
Contributed by Stefanía Doebbel.