There is no such thing as a solo entrepreneur. When growing your business from the ground, it is crucial to build a stellar startup team that shares your vision to help bring your idea to life. A poorly constructed team is one of the top reasons that start-ups fail. Therefore it is imperative that you are selective and strategic about your team. So we’ve put together our top tips for building your dream team!
Identify positions within your startup team
The first step for building your team is to identify the positions you need to hire for to deliver your minimum viable product (MVP). As odd as it might sound, don’t build a team for a startup. The start-up phase is temporary, not your long-term trajectory.
What are the strengths of your founders?
Begin by looking at your founding members. What are their strengths and weaknesses? That right there should determine the structure and foundation of your startup. Who is the marketing whiz? Who is the technical expert? Do what you are great at. Bring in top people to handle the rest.
Also consider your personalities, values, and beliefs. What do you want your working culture to be like? Only once you have settled on what your company culture will be and how decisions will be made within the company can you hire anyone else.
What positions will complete your team?
Think about the functions necessary to produce your MVP. In an early stage startup this is unlikely to cover every possible function. Instead think about the skills or talents that your team is already lacking in. For example, programming, account management, or sales. Use this to drive your decisions on positions, and of course think about the money you have available to fill these positions.
What other hiring options are there?
In the beginning hiring full-time employees may not be necessary. In fact, often it makes more sense to hire part-time employees or contractors at the beginning. Eventually they might be hired on a full-time basis if the partnership proves to be fruitful. This will help you to leverage a full set of skills for your business at minimal time, money, and risk.
Alternatively, if it is advisers you are looking for, it could be valuable to read a few industry-leading blogs, or better yet attend an industry event. Lockdown is no excuse—when the world went remote, so too did many big events! You’ll learn so much by simply putting yourself out there, and at their best, these can point you in the direction of talented advisers, whether they be technical experts, personal coaches, or market experts!
Diversity of thought
Picture a team that is similar in every way—personality, drive, thinking style, working style. It can kill creativity. Creativity is critical for a flourishing startup! Encouraging diversity of thought, opinions, and personality is more important in a startup than established businesses.
Homogenous teams that conform to the same identity will likely have similar strengths and weaknesses. Without someone to cover your blind spots, it becomes increasingly difficult to generate new ideas or check each other’s mistakes and performance. A degree of pushback builds a more robust operation. For this, balance is crucial.
Striking a balance between hard and soft skills
When evaluating the skill set of your team, be sure not to neglect soft skills. When we talk about experience (hard skills) and passion and vision (soft skills), it becomes apparent that stellar teams sit at the nexus of the two.
There is truth to the idea that prior startup experience, product knowledge, and industry skills can contribute to the success of a new venture. However, this is not sufficient enough means for a team to work well together. To attract the attention of external venture capital investors, shared strategic vision and entrepreneurial passion are crucial—and though bootstrapping is a noble pursuit, without some degree of investestment you’re in for one hell of an uphill battle.
A recent study of 95 new startup teams found that high levels of experience combined with average or low passion demonstrated weak team performance. Particularly in the areas of innovation, customer satisfaction, and cost control. The opposite was true for teams reporting average levels of experience but high passion. In fact, they demonstrated significantly stronger performance.
Ultimately, a great resume does not always equal great performance. Without entrepreneurial passion and strategic initiative, even an outstanding resume can lose its value.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, some top tips for growing your start-up from the ground up. Build a team that thinks differently, and possesses a wide range of skills and opinions. Instead align on your strategic vision, and your business will go from strength-to-strength.
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