The Secret to Building a Successful Startup? Finding the Right Team.
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As every entrepreneur knows, creating a startup is hard work. Sure, you’ve got a great idea, but do VC’s agree? Have you done the research and identified an actual need in the marketplace? Do you have a plan of attack on how to get your product to market? With so many factors at play and research indicating up to 90 percent of technology startups fail, how do you make it work?
A good place to start is with the people you surround yourself with. A great idea is the catalyst to gets things in motion, but at the end of the day, it’s the team you hire who will ultimately determine the success, or failure, of the company.
There’s not a specific cut-and-dry formula, but if you keep these five tips in mind during your hiring process you’re sure to find that perfect team to help achieve your goals.
1. Know your weaknesses.
Whether you’re the sole founder or you have partners, it’s important to identify your weaknesses. Take stock of the voids in your skillsets, and prioritize which positions you need to hire first.
For example, if you (or your-co founders) are tech savvy but lack the skills to sell a product, you’ll want to quickly find someone who does. Recognizing these needs from the start will save a lot of extra time down the road.
Also, make sure you’re aware of which roles make the most sense for your industry. If your dream is to build the next big mobile app, a copy editor may not be the wisest choice but someone who can write code is a great option. If you’re not sure where to start, seek input from other leaders in your field who have already gone through the team-building process.
2. Lean on your network.
It’s not just the people within the company walls who are pivotal to your business’s growth, it's also the people you bring in from the outside. Advisors, mentors and board members aren’t just for show -- they play an important role in helping to guide you both personally and professionally. Lean on your individual networks to find industry experts and veterans who can advise on matters with the hindsight of someone who’s been there before.
Take your time, meet with lots of prospects and remember: You’re not likely to meet the perfect match right away.
In the beginning I was doing between 12 and 15 meetings a week and after each one, I would ask for at least two new introductions. It was exhausting, but I knew it had to be done. In the long run these meetings helped me to secure the right people from the start.
3. Get creative when hiring.
You’ve got your outside network built but now it’s time to find the people who will help drive the day-to-day success of your business. Recruiters are great, but if you want to find people who are going to be the right fit for your company, plan on doing some of the legwork yourself. Make a list of professional skills and personality traits you want in your team, and then actively seek them out. Get creative and don’t be afraid to use all of the resources available -- from board members to LinkedIn.
4. Remember there’s no I in team.
As you begin to build out those key players, it’s important that each team member has the opportunity to provide feedback during the hiring process. In a startup everyone moves quickly and just a few are doing the job of many, so you need to build a team that can work together for the greater good. Look for people who have the ability to quickly shift gears to get things done and who don’t freeze when chaos strikes.
5. Build the culture you want.
At my company Tack, we love local businesses -- it’s why we do what we do. And that is reflected in our culture. When hiring, remember to build your team around your cause. Build a culture that cares about its people and rally around a shared vision. In good times this may not seem important, but when things get rough ---which in a startup can happen on any given day -- it’s the team with a strong culture and purpose that will pull together and push through.