6 Tips for Building the Right Startup Team
A business is only a job until you start making money while you are sleeping. Building the right startup team enables you to focus on growing the business well beyond its current level. That is why it is very important to build the right team from the beginning.
“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large” – Jeff Bezos: Founder, Amazon
Here are a few tips I have used both in my corporate experience as well as in my entrepreneurial journey to build the right team.
1) Identify the Positions You Want to Fill
This is a no brainer. To build the right team, you have to identify which positions to hire first and the decision is usually based on factors such as the workload and skill set required. In my experience as a blogger, I first hired a web developer to create a website for me as I did not have the experience to do so. Later on, I intend to bring on board contributors to create content for the blog. Different businesses will have different needs at different stages. The key is to prioritise the needs and address the most important ones first.
2) Passion First
What I have come to realise is that when an employee is not passionate about using their lives to make a change to the world, they will most probably not be a good team member. If you can build a team of individuals who are passionate about their work and about making a difference to those they interact with, you will most probably have a higher chance of success. Starting and running a business is not easy. That is why you need someone who is passionate about their work to sail through with you.
Related Post: What is Passion?
3) Fulltime, Part-time Hires, Interns or Contractors?
When you are starting up, you do not need to hire full time employees. Your business may not be generating enough sales to afford a permanent employee. It is perfectly okay to make use of contractors, part time hires or even interns. Thereafter, you can review their terms of engagement as the business grows. It is easier to handle contractors because if it does not work out, no one gets fired. You simply don’t call them back again. A full time employee will get paid regardless of whether they deliver work or not. Having a fulltime employee is a major commitment and a business owner should think through it very carefully. For these reasons, it is generally safer to hire contractors, part time hires or even interns first then transition to full time employees as the business grows.
4) Are The Team Members All Rounded?
In a startup environment, you need to see things moving everyday and you cannot afford to keep underperformers. Team members not only need to have the right experience but must be well versed with all facets of an organisation or atleast willing to learn. If a team member is not all rounded and they are unwilling to learn, that is a serious red flag and you should think of managing them out quickly.
5) Test The Team Members
I would recommend testing the team members before giving them a full time job. Start by giving them a small project on contract. When they complete it, give them a slightly bigger one. All this time observe them to see how they work under pressure, their level of commitment, their personality and overall, assess whether they are the right fit for the organisation. It is much cheaper to spend money testing team members rather than hiring and realising in a month or two that it is not going to work out. By the time someone is coming on board, they totally understand how you roll and they will have had a chance to evaluate whether the organisation is the right fit for them.
6) Post Hire Strategies
When you decide to hire a team member, it does not mean that your work ends there. You have to put strategies in place for training and development, promotion and retention. You do not want other organisations to poach your A-list team members after this long process of identifying, testing and hiring them. Therefore you have to up your game by bringing on board unbeatable retention strategies. Some startup organisations have employee share ownership plans where the business owners give up part of the equity shares to the exceptional employees to make them feel valued. This way, the employees will want to continue as part of the business. This not only makes them more committed but they are now essentially part owners and so they will do anything to see the business succeed. There are many more strategies to retain employees which I cannot cover in this article.
Related post: Are You The Right Fit For Your Business?