There are a lot of things to consider when building your startup team. You’ll need to find the right people for each job, make sure those people are aligned with your goals and values and then manage them effectively so that they can do their jobs well. This is easier said than done, but it’s not impossible! Here are some tips on how to build a strong team from scratch:
Find your co-founder match
When you’re looking for a co-founder, it’s important to find someone who shares your values and can bring something to the table that you can’t. This is especially true if you don’t have any previous startup team experience—because now would be a bad time to try to learn how to do everything yourself!
You’ll want someone who has skills that complement yours. For example, if one of you has a technical background but not much business knowledge and the other has entrepreneurial experience but isn’t technical at all, then looking for someone who balances those two skill sets out should help ensure the success of your company.
It’s also important that this person will work well with others; if they don’t mesh well with other people on your team—or even just in general—that could spell disaster for everyone involved (and no one wants THAT).
Get to know potential team members
In order to find the right people for your team, you need to see how well they fit into your company and culture.
- Do you and the potential team member agree on what success looks like?
- Do you have similar goals?
- Are they committed to learning and growing as a professional?
- Is their work ethic aligned with yours?
When building a startup team, everyone must be on the same page about goals, values, and priorities. You want people who are excited about what they do – not just those who take up space in an office chair because there aren’t any other jobs available at their skill level (and current industry).
Hire early, hire slow
The most important lesson for a founder to learn is that hiring is as much about not hiring someone, as it is about hiring them.
Hiring early and slow means you’ll spend more time getting to know the candidate before bringing them on board, which gives you an opportunity to make sure they have the right skills, experience and personality for your startup team.
It also gives you time to think through all aspects of working with them: how it could benefit your business; what growth opportunities you’re offering; how their compensation package compares with others in their field (and whether they’re worth it).
Beware of the all-star
This is a person who has already succeeded in a previous role, and they are (understandably) reluctant to take on an assignment that might be beneath them. An all-star is often overqualified for the position, which means they may not be willing to take on the tasks that need to be done or are struggling with management issues.
All-stars can also cause problems due to their unique personality traits or mindset. For example, many high performers have a hard time working under someone else because they’re so used to being their own boss or having complete control of their work environment—and this can lead them down an unproductive path if they don’t adjust accordingly.
Your first employee is a bigger deal than you think
The first employee is a bigger deal than you think because they set the tone for the rest of your startup team and are critical to company culture.
- First impressions matter. The first employee is often the most visible person in your company, and they’ll be seen as representative of your organization by outsiders whether they like it or not (and if you don’t have any customers yet, you won’t have anyone to impress).
- It’s tempting to hire someone who knows how things work at a startup team since that person will be able to hit the ground running when it comes to tasks like interviewing candidates and doing marketing materials. But remember: You don’t want someone who only knows how things work at startups—you want someone who can help build a new way of doing things!
If you’re looking for someone with startup team experience but they don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, try looking at people who recently left corporate jobs or even just graduated college (a recent grad will probably be more open-minded than an established professional).
Consider outsourcing for your first few hires to save money and time
Outsourcing can be a good way to save time and money when you’re just starting out. If you don’t know what talent you need yet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options out there. Instead of trying to find the perfect candidate in one fell swoop, consider outsourcing for a few months before putting someone on full-time.
You’ll learn what skills are necessary for your role while also getting in touch with potential candidates who might be interested in joining later as a full-time employees or part-time contractors (or both). And if it turns out that outsourcing isn’t working for you after all? Well, at least now you’ve got some knowledge about what kinds of people will fit well in your organization!
Use contract labor for junior roles like design or development work
When you’re just starting out, you can use contract labor to get started. If you have a product-based business, this is particularly useful: it’s a great way to test the market and make sure your product is appealing before you fully commit to hiring full-time employees.
Contract labor can also be used as an opportunity to test your startup team—if someone does great work on a contract basis, it might make sense for them to join your ranks as an employee.
Don’t expect employees to carry the burden of your inexperience
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to feel like your employees are responsible for your inexperience. You may think that if you only knew how to do X or Y thing, then everything would be perfect. But this is a fallacy. You have to learn how to manage people, and this takes time and practice—no one learns these skills overnight.
So don’t expect employees to carry the burden of your inexperience and show initiative on their own time; instead, take more ownership over the process of building a startup team—whether it’s by learning how to set expectations and hold people accountable or by delegating tasks that don’t require expertise from you but will still move the company forward.
Practice good management and equity practices
The way you distribute equity is an important part of building your startup team. The best way to do this is through a vesting schedule, which means that employees will earn their equity over time as they contribute more and more to the company.
Vesting schedules are also great because they give employees an incentive to stay with the company for the long haul—once they’ve earned their shares, it’s in their best interest to stick around instead of jumping ship after one year. But what if you can’t offer all founders equal stakes? If there’s only one founder and several cofounders, who gets more? How many shares should each person get?
Creating a strong startup team
It can be difficult, but it is possible if you take things slowly, consider the best fit for each position, and do not settle for the first person you interview.
- You can’t do it all yourself.
- You need a startup team of people working together to make the company successful, so don’t be afraid to recruit others and build a strong startup team.
- If you’re having trouble finding the right people for your startup team, here are some tips:
- Consider getting help from an experienced entrepreneur who has already built a successful business.
- Not every entrepreneur needs to know how to code or run marketing campaigns, but they should have enough knowledge about their field of expertise (marketing, programming) that they can get their job done effectively without any problems.
- Each person on your startup team needs to have different skill sets so that none of them overlap too much with each other’s roles for everything to run smoothly.
If you can get your startup team right, it’s the difference between success and failure. It’s also an area where many entrepreneurs fall short. By taking the time to build a strong team that complements each other’s skills and personalities, you will be able to achieve more than just working together—you’ll be building relationships that last well beyond when the company is no longer at its peak.
Keetria is an entrepreneur, wellness advocate, and brand strategy coach for creatives & entrepreneurs with 16 years of public relations expertise working with some of the world’s leading brands, startups, media personalities, and entertainers. If you would like to work together, don’t hesitate to reach out!