The results have shown that, in general, there are
- fundamental differences between founders and managers which affect their motivational needs and requirements in supportive structures and
- a modest effect of individual characteristics on predicting the success of startups exists. Hereby, the respective growth phase exerts a moderating effect. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that there are certain methodological limitations to this research, which might have slightly reduced the measured effects.
Firstly, the variability of the sample was quite low, as we can assume that the inclusion of founders whose startups failed would provide greater effects of the individual characteristics on the success of startups and reveal even greater differences. Secondly, the study is limited by the fact that only one dependent variable was used – headcount growth. Although this parameter is internationally recognised as a standard, it does not capture all relevant performance indicators. Introducing some additional measures, above all financial indicators, would contribute to having objective and easily checked measures for evaluating and including other aspects of company success.
The importance of individual characteristics changes and evolves with the development of the company. In the beginning, it is important to form a core team that will bond amongst themselves and becomes cohesive, so they can align their values and focus together on the development of the startup, despite potential problems, especially financial. As the startup further develops, we enter the transition phase in which the primary goal is to define the growth levers for the business. This is probably the riskiest stage of the entire lifecycle. If mistakes are made in this phase of startup development, it could lead to stagnation and staying stuck in this phase for several years with making no progress, or even failure of the start-up. For that reason, in this stage what are perceived to be traditionally masculine characteristics are crucial, such as resilience, interest in leading, and being motivated by achievement. As previously mentioned, in this phase a large number of women entrepreneurs fail and drop out of the start-up business. Finally, the last phase implies stability, but still requires an investment of energy in order to successfully maintain performance and lead the company. In this phase, the ability to understand and pay attention to own and other people’s emotions can be beneficial lead to an increase in the number of employees in the company, thanks to adequate communication, especially emotional.
More consistent and stronger is the effect of variables such as gender, team role, and startup industry. Even though the number of women in startups is almost the same as men at the beginning (47% Women vs 53% Men), after 3 years their number significantly decreased (22% Women vs 78% Men). We can propose several potential reasons for a bigger drop out of women during the development of startups, such as less previous experience with startups and work experience in general, more rarely perceiving their own startups as a part of the IT industry, more often their startups not being their primary source of income, as well as the possibility that the current business environment is promoting more what are perceived to be traditionally masculine characteristics. In order to keep up the number of women in startups, it is extremely important to provide continuous support to startups led by females, especially in the early stages.
Team-role change is connected to the flexibility and adaptability of the whole startup team in new internal and external circumstances. Rigidly sticking to the same roles during the development of a startup can hinder their development and chances of success. For that reason, it is important that not only an individual but the whole team as well is ready to change internal roles by giving up on some and taking on new roles, in order to enable further faster and more successful development. To sum up, for startup success it is important not only that individuals are changing and developing, but the whole team as well.
Finally, startups whose founders perceive their company to be a part of the IT industry make faster progress than non-IT startups. We also mentioned that even startups whose founders defined themselves as non-IT actually primarily use digital technology in their work. We believe that the difference between IT and non-IT companies is not in a different application of technology (given the fact that both groups rely on IT in their work), but in the size of the market space they reach out to and influence. Thus, IT companies reach more customers and present their ideas as applicable in various industries and sectors, while self-declared non-IT companies reach more specific and smaller target groups (such as medical, law, marketing, etc.). We assume that it is this difference in the size of the target group that makes a difference in the speed of development of these startups.
In conclusion, we can say that more successful companies are more flexible in applying different styles and shifting team roles during the evolution of a company. Rigidity and staying in fixed patterns of behaviour and team roles leads to slowing down company progress and development. One of the most crucial recommendations based on the results of this research is highlighting the importance of the constant need for adjusting to internal and external circumstances in order to ensure faster development of the company. Additionally, faster growth can be achieved by promoting services and products to as wide a target group as possible.