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I've started an initiative with two of my co-workers a year ago. We kicked off great but after a couple of months, they both started to skip work with no reason. I don't want to throw away our 3-4 months of effort and I don't want to work alone as our projects are no one man jobs. We've spent some money and built the foundation but we didn't register any patents or even a company. my questions are

  1. What can I do to proceed with my startup (with or without my partners)
  2. Where can I find the right people to join me? What should be their attributes?

I'm good at reading people, but I don't know what to look for in a partner as my last 3 efforts of building a startup has failed because of the people I chose. I'm in software industry and I'm very good at the technical aspect of the job. I'm also good at leading and influencing people but not yet at managing them.

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    Off topic. Like I wrote this. I wonder if there is another me in the world :). Would be overly interested to see replies. – Peter MV Jan 6 '14 at 7:36
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Here's a question for you - what sort of structure are you providing to encourage your people to perform? Do you have a mutually beneficial and understood verbal or written contract that specifies who is responsible for what, what kind of work each person is responsible to put in to be counted as a full participant, and what kind of rewards they can expect for staying the course?

People are people, regardless of how smart they are. They lose interest quickly, get distracted, and often after a while begin to look for reasons to put in less than their best efforts, especially when the payout for their work is seen as iffy or a long way off. Very few are disciplined enough to work consistently for long periods of time towards a goal without some incentive along the way to continue to do so. Could this be what needs to be tweaked, or maybe has been missing altogether, in your last three efforts?

So, to answer your two questions, here is what I would do.

If you want to proceed with your start up, make sure that you have a clear understanding of the roles and work required to pull it off, and put this down somewhere in writing. Perhaps in your business plan. Then be sure that anyone who signs on from now on understands what is expected of them and what the rewards will be and the consequences for not following through. Interview potential partners like you would a potential employee to make sure they have the background and skills required to deliver. Offer incentives for good work. Get something in writing for your protection and for the protection of your new partners. A memorandum of understanding may work just fine, or a simple contract. Be sure to invest a bit of cash in having it vetted by a business lawyer before you sign it or ask someone else to sign it.

If you want to proceed without partners, then I'd start looking for some sharp folks who are willing to freelance for you for wages. Then I'd take my completed business plan and start shopping around for capital... investors, loans, savings. There are whole books on how to do that, and many are industry specific.

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    Thanks for the answer! The prize is - as you put it - long way off but definitely worth it if the partners believe in it (which they did at the beginning) Their responsibility - unlike mine - is clear. it is simply technical tasks + using their contacts. My responsibility on the other hand is marketing, research, legal, financial, and technical tasks. – GoodHeartedOne Jan 3 '14 at 17:11
  • That's a good start - but I'd like to suggest that putting it in writing, and making sure the rewards are clear from the beginning may be helpful to keep everyone on task and enthusiastic. Good luck! – TeresaMcgH Jan 3 '14 at 17:12
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    A wrote a similar answer here about my experience of working within a startup: freelancing.stackexchange.com/a/1152/43. My role was the technical one, which sounds like the role you're having trouble getting someone to stay in – levelnis Jan 3 '14 at 18:29

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