What can startups do to increase their chance of surviving and thriving?


Hire women and hire them early.

Via Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful:

Moving from anecdote to data, some recent evidence shows that start-up companies that employed more women survived longer than others.

From the study referenced:

In this paper we investigate the relationship between females among the first hires of start-up companies and business success. Our results show that firms with female first hires have a higher share of female workers at the end of the first year after entry. Further, we find that firms with female first hires are more successful and stay longer in the market. We conclude that our results support the hypothesis that gender-diversity in leading positions is an advantage for start-up firms.

Source: “Female Hires and the Success of Start-up Firms” from IZA Discussion Papers #4568

I’ve posted before that adding women to a team improves performance by increasing the social sensitivity of the group:

This “c factor” is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

The best teams are comprised of men and women:

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affect their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, where each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBAs. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by any other gender combination, both at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Looking across the performance distribution, we find that for undergraduates, three women teams are outperformed throughout, but by as much as 10pp at the bottom and by only 1pp at the top. For MBAs, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision-making. We observe that three women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.

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