Founders must contend with many sources of failure. In my experience working with founders and startups of all kinds, I have discovered that team failure will negatively impact a startup’s long-term viability and success.

If just one person on the team isn’t pulling their weight—or even worse, has become a toxic or destructive element in the organization—then you have a real problem on your hands, one that can’t be ignored. One bad hire can create a chain reaction of team mediocrity and, ultimately, failure. Let’s consider some ways you can prevent team failure.

Build a Strong Foundation From the Start

Building a great founding team lays the groundwork that supports your organization as it scales. This team must contain people with expertise in three key areas: product vision, technical chops, and missionary selling. Get this initial team right, and you’ve set the stage for success. Get it wrong, and your business will suffer as a result.

To attract the highest-quality candidates, you’ll need to have the highest-quality people on your founding team. Like attracts like, and quality people want to work for and with other quality people. Acquiring and retaining the best people are good problems for any organization to have.

Build Out Your Team As You Scale

Really successful businesses can scale very rapidly, doubling or tripling sales in just a year. With this kind of growth, a business can outgrow the capabilities of its team—even members of the founding team.

For example, the founder who initially took on the sales role for the company may become overwhelmed as the number of customers and prospects skyrockets. When they can no longer keep up, it’s time to make your first sales hire—gently turning the founder’s focus to other things while bringing in a seasoned sales executive to take charge. While you may not look forward to telling your co-founder they should step back from that role and move on to something else, it must be done. Chances are, they may have been thinking the same thing.

As your company scales, you must also be careful to avoid trying to build the airplane as it’s flying. That is, for your less experienced people to attempt to learn everything they need to know on the job. Instead, you should have a well-balanced mix of less experienced team members with room to grow and highly experienced professionals who already know the ropes and can guide your less experienced team members.

Build a Team That’s Stronger Than You Are

One of the keys to building a high-performing team is to make it a habit to hire people whose strengths exceed your own. This might seem intuitively obvious, but many founders, entrepreneurs, and managers don’t take the time to attract, recruit, and hire the best candidates—the A players. They instead hire fast, plugging the holes in their team as quickly as possible while lowering the quality bar “just this one time.” This is a mistake. The inevitable result is a team of B and C players, which attracts more B and C players and can ultimately lead to team failure.

Before hiring anyone for your team, take some time to define your ideal candidate—the skills, experience, and qualities this person has. What is your organization’s culture, and how will this candidate add to it? Then, cast the net as wide as possible for this ideal candidate, advertise on traditional job sites, and ping your trusted network of colleagues and other business contacts. The best candidates will often come to you through network referrals. You can also tap into your investor’s candidate network for additional vetted options.

Once you’ve identified some strong candidates for the position, put them through a rigorous interview process involving your co-founders, executive team, and their future team members. Focus on their problem-solving ability, work well with others, and align with your vision and culture. And, of course, check their references, asking for candid feedback on their performance.

Above all, remember that in the long run, great teams win, not the lone genius. 

Remember: The Score Takes Care of Itself

I admire Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. During his 10-year stint as head coach, the 49ers won the Super Bowl three times, and Walsh was named NFL Coach of the Year twice. I have always liked this quote from Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care of Itself:

“Running a football franchise is not unlike running any other business: You start first with a structural format and basic philosophy and then find the people who can implement it.”

Ultimately, the best preventative—and cure—for team failure is to create a powerful vision for your business and then hire the best people you can to execute it. When you do that, your company’s success will take care of itself.