You’ve done it! Days and nights of vetting your idea, researching your market and identifying your customers have paid off, and your startup business is beginning to take form. Now, if you’re anything like most entrepreneurs, you can be found with hunched shoulders, a sweaty brow and a mind turning around the thought, “How can I turn this into a reality?”
The simple answer: You can’t! Not by yourself at least. No matter how amazing the idea or the simplicity of the processes involved, the fate of our businesses ultimately lies in the team with which we surround ourselves. Eric Schmidt, longtime CEO of Google, highlights this point in his recent tell all “How Google Works.” He explains,
“You need to have confidence in your people, and enough self-confidence to let them identify a better way.”
One weak member can crumble a team, an idea or a business—there’s no mistaking this. So, how can we be certain we assemble the right team that will ensure our vision becomes a reality?
Here are four simple steps to use when building your new team:
1. Define key needs.
Marketing, developing, sales, accounting, copywriting, social media, growth hacking—all of these may be essential when considering our customers’ needs. However, startups don’t need 15 employees for 15 different positions. First, define the roles that are most essential to your businesses growth now.
Then, take your time when hiring. Seek out professionals who are experienced in a variety of areas. Understand where you and your co-founders succeed, then prioritize out from there. Being honest about your weaknesses and blind spots is key here. Finding new team members with the skills that you lack is the key when taking your business to the next level.
2. Choose between consultants and full-time hires.
This is the first major problems most new entrepreneurs run into. If you don't have software design or engineering skills, do you partner with a specialist early on? This likely means either a significant salary, a large portion of equity, or, as some discover, both. While this may seem logical to those struggling for capital and angel backing, it might not be the wisest decision.
Before you bring someone on full time, consider hiring a design firm or a web consultant first. Then, weigh your options against partnering with an independent developer. As John Steimle, CMO of MWI Marketing, explains in an article for Forbes,
“I offset the risk of bringing on a salaried team member, don’t have to worry about getting someone up to speed, and especially don’t have to worry about having a mouth to feed and no income, if design projects should not come in fast enough.”
3. Get out and network.
Finding the right candidates can be stressful, and at times may seem downright impossible. The simplest advice: get out there and start networking. Look for talent at local networking events and meet-ups. Attend conventions geared towards the positions you are trying to hire. Tap into the network you already have and pick their brains. The most important factors I look for:
- Recommendation – Someone that comes well recommended will likely be an asset to your team.
- Trading Compensation for Pacing – Someone willing to start at a reduced salary in exchange for flexibility and/or potential equity can be invaluable in the early stages.
- Pure Passion – The best value comes from those who are truly interested in the idea and willing to work hard to achieve it.
4. Trust your team.
Up to this point, you've likely done all the work yourself. Late nights in your office or long after your kids or your spouse (or both) have gone to bed, you've been awake, frantically trying to piece it all together. That's fine, but once your team is on board, you must begin to delegate.
If you trust that you have hired wisely, then that trust needs to be passed on to the team you're investing in! Paula Andruss, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine, explains,
“While multitasking may be necessary in the earliest days of a venture, it's important to know when to let go of nonessential tasks so you can focus on the areas that are necessary to build your business.”
Once you've taken the leap of the faith to hire the people that surround you, it's time to take another and trust them with the daily tasks so that they can help build upon your success. They possess skills, qualities and traits not only that you lack, but also that the business needs. Allow them to do what they do best so you can do what you do best!
The Next Steps
Building a successful business takes time, patience and a series of calculated risks. Hiring your initial team will test all of these, but if you stay true to your instincts and the principles upon which you built your startup, you'll be on the right track. After you have your team up and running, you'll want to focus your energies on building and refining your minimum viable product (MVP), which I will discuss in the coming weeks.
Have you hired a team for a startup before? Do you have you own tips for building your initial team? Join the conversation by tweeting @EidsonPartners!