In life, we tend to surround ourselves with people with similar interests to our own. This makes perfect sense when it comes to choosing our friends and significant others, but can be a big mistake when it comes to selecting business partners.
If you’re smart in forming your business team, you know that it’s important to have people with complementary skills so that you’ll have a diverse organization capable of excelling in various areas. For example, having someone who is very creative to handle design and marketing versus someone who is very good with numbers and money to handle your accounting. This is obvious to most people, but I like to take it one step further. I don’t just want people with complimentary work skills, I want people with complimentary work styles. In my opinion, people generally fall into one of two categories. Starters and Finishers.
Who is a Starter? A starter is someone who wakes up in the morning and is ready to hit the ground running. Ideas pour freely through their heads. They are the ones that when sitting in a meeting, tend to bring chaos (not necessarily in a bad way) to the discussion. They can’t wait to get started and tend to be very creative. They don’t usually focus on the details. Instead they focus on new and innovative ideas. The problem with starters is that they usually have a tough time finishing a project. They are the ones that always have several projects going on at once and none of them are done. They have a harder time focusing on one thing for a long period of time. We love them however, because their minds never stop working and they always think there’s a new way to do things. Most inventors are starters. They may only bring a few of their ideas to fruition, but when they do, they are usually amazing. Some might misinterpret them as being scatter-brained.
Who is a Finisher? Finishers tend to be very calculating. They like to have all the details worked out before they get going. They don’t usually like to “go with the flow”. In a meeting, they’re usually the ones sitting quietly, listening, calculating and figuring out all the details behind the conversation. They are usually the ones that use phrases like “what if”, “yeah but”, or “what are we going to do about”. People can sometimes see them as “naysayers” or “dream killers”, but they are simply trying to analyze the realities of what’s being proposed. They may take time getting started, but once they do, they are hard to stop. They tend to be laser focused and don’t like doing a lot of different things at once. They also don’t like deviating from the plan. They’re so focused that once they start a project, they’ll sometimes forget to eat or even sleep until they are done. They may (like starters) have several projects on their plate, but they’re only working on one. They’ll “get to the others” when they have time. Some might misinterpret them as procrastinators.
Neither one is better than the other. In fact, both types of people are essential to good production. Our founder (and my wife) Tracey happens to be a Starter, and I am definitely a Finisher. This is precisely why we are a good team. She is a waterfall of new ideas and innovation. We then vet each idea together, and I execute on the ones we decide are worthwhile. I believe this is a big part of our success.
When putting together teams, I’ve always believed it is important to combine Starters and Finishers. Putting two Starters together on a project will generally yield some great ideas, but will rarely result in a finished product. Putting two Finishers together will often result in very little innovation and very little change. They may execute well, but will usually execute on “old” ideas and do things within their comfort zone. Putting a good Starter and a good Finisher together however, can bring amazing results. Think of an Olympic relay team for example. Neither runner on the team is “better” than any other, but the person leading the team off is usually very good at starting a race and can give the team an early lead. The person who goes last, often called the “anchor”, is usually very good at holding off any last minute challenges or has the unique ability to catch anyone else in front of him/her.
So which one are you? Think long and hard and be honest. You may think you are both, but in my experience, this is extremely rare. Identify your other team members as well and when putting together project teams, you’ll find you’ll give them a much better chance of success if you put Starters together with Finishers.