It's A Fit!

Find the right piece to your partnership puzzle and you're in business.
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This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want to form a partnership to start your business? Increase your chances of success by treating the company like a puzzle; put all the necessary pieces together before you launch your venture.

Darin Gilson was working as an associate at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. when he was approached to assist the founders of Campus Pipeline in Salt Lake City. The young online software company had created a product linking traditional higher education intranet systems with the Internet. Seeing a company with so much potential and the pieces of the start-up puzzle in place, Gilson left McKinsey and joined Campus Pipeline as president and COO. He offers these tips for piecing together your own entrepreneurial puzzle:

  • Your initial puzzle should include a visionary with a great idea; a technologist who can create your initial product mock-up, prototype or demo; someone who knows how to identify and deal with risks; and a skilled communicator who can reach financial backers, initial customers and your first internal team members. Individuals with overlapping skills may be the best choices for getting the puzzle pieces to fit.
  • Understand that the pieces of your puzzle will change. A growing company needs different skill sets during different phases, and the people who were key pieces during your start-up stage may no longer fit once you're up and running. Always be on the lookout for new pieces.
  • Be willing to take yourself out of the puzzle. Your company may be your "baby," but as it grows, it needs evolving management and leadership skills. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself: If your forte is start-up but not ongoing operations, be willing to step down or move aside for the sake of the organization. Accept a nonleadership position in the company or go elsewhere--maybe even start another company.

Contact Source

Campus Pipeline, (801) 485-6500,

Edition: July 2017

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