The startup team serves as the foundation of any new business. Therefore, it’s crucial for all entrepreneurs to understand how to build one with skill and discernment. Here are some helpful tips for anyone seeking insight into this vital aspect of the enterprise-building process.
Every journey needs a map. Before you begin to build your team, it’s important to identify some key principles that will inform and guide your search. Entrepreneur Magazine notes a few:
Commit to all parties being on the same page.
From small projects to the general company mission, it’s important to ensure that everyone involved is ultimately working toward the same goal. Whether fixing a small issue or tackling a company-wide challenge, every person must understand the direction the company is headed and the plan for getting there. Make sure you know this from the beginning and carry it out by example.
Similar to the previous principle, good communication ensures that all parties feel comfortable in the work they do and in sharing their goals and concerns. Make sure you’re ready to foster a culture where partners and core leadership feel empowered to discuss difficult topics and address important issues.
Decide early on your vision and company culture.
What’s your 10-year plan? What are your company values? Will you emphasize your employees’ knowledge and skill development? Clearly define where you want your company to go and what it will stand for. Doing so will better equip you to find individuals who share those beliefs and are excited about your mission.
Market conditions, employee needs, financial responsibilities – they all change. Prepare for what circumstances you can, but always be ready to adapt to the realities in front of you, and encourage your team to do the same.
Hiring A Startup Team
A winning startup team is comprised of highly capable individuals who embody a range of skills and talents. According to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, it’s necessary to find people who balance each other. Note that you don’t have to personally like everyone, but because of the intense nature of a startup team, you do have to find individuals who are a cultural fit. It may help to write down exactly the kind of team you’d like. What type of person balances you? Clarifying who you want makes you more likely to find them.
For many entrepreneurs, the hiring process is a new experience. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Finding your startup team means following some key steps:
Identify the positions you’ll need and the materials necessary for your search.
Common positions needed in startups include those in technology, sales, marketing and accounting, explained Inc. Make sure you think about what foundational jobs your company requires. Typical job search materials might include job descriptions, talent recruitment methods like job fairs or Internet postings and salary and compensation figures.
Once you’ve found candidates, you need to provide information your potential employees will need to make informed decisions about their employment such as salaries and work schedules.
Begin networking as soon as you realize you need a startup team. Invest time and energy in building professional relationships through meetups, conferences and other professional events. The more professional rapport you’ve built, the easier it will be to tap into those resources when you require them.
Sell the vision.
When you meet a desirable candidate, chances are you’re not their only option as an employer. Pitch your vision of the company. Address their unique motivations, concerns and interests to help them see how they can fit into your plan. Also, make sure you have strategies in place for training, promotions and career advancement, as these things may serve as incentives.
Make interviews interactive.
Instead of simply asking questions, give your candidates work to do. Place them in a team setting, for example, and ask them to solve a problem. Doing so gives you a better understanding of their skills and potential rapport with other team members.
Close the deal quickly.
Once you and your candidate of choice show mutual interest, it’s best to offer them the position within twenty-four hours. They should give you an answer within the week.
“Hire slow, fire fast.”
This adage is often cited as general wisdom for the hiring process – and it’s true. Startup teams are a long-term commitment, and “breaking up” can get messy. If you realize someone isn’t the right fit, waiting too long to let them go can have detrimental effects on you, the rest of your team and your long-term plans. Make sure to have post-hiring assessments in place and be ready to let people go within three months if you realize there’s an issue.
Consider alternatives to full-time employees.
Startup companies don’t always have the resources to hire people full-time. Explore ways around this. Hire skilled contractors, partner with a larger firm or hire individuals on a part-time basis instead. You’ll have the capacity to get things done, and you’ll simultaneously test to see if those employees are a good long-term fit. If they’re not quite right, you’ll mitigate your risks.
Article adapted with permission from the University of West Alabama Online business news blog. UWA Online offers flexible online courses designed to provide you with the training you need to help your new venture thrive in a format that easily fits around your life. See their fully online Bachelor of Business Administration degree information here.