Building a Stellar Startup Team

One of the key pillars on which the success of your venture rests is the team. There have been so many instances where resource in terms of money was never a constraint neither the power of the idea/product, however a poorly put together team was the cause of disaster. Frankly very often there is nothing wrong with the individual per se, it’s just that they are not the right fight for a startup.

Your team should be self-motivated

A startup by its very nature is extremely fluid and dynamic and requires someone with extreme patience and ability to work in chaos or a fast moving situation. This is not the place for someone who will need a formalised presentation and rounds of alignment meetings followed by setting up a key task force to deliver on a project.

Hire a person who is committed to the startup

The person should have the ability to roll up their sleeves and get the job done irrespective of what it takes, and then more importantly move on to the next and not dwell on raving about the stellar performance they delivered in trying conditions. Fundamentally, it’s about the attitude, a startup is not a place to keep track of timings, performance bonuses, compensatory offs etc. The person should share the passion of creating something new and pure love for the product/service that you are out to deliver. Naturally the candidate should have the ability to perform in not so rich compensations as the company is unlikely in the initial stages to afford lavish paychecks.

Look for people with Integrity

Look for people who you can trust and also have the basic skill set and capability to deliver within their area of expertise. You can’t afford to have balls dropping, the same individual in a large corporation would be a cog within a large system hence the stakes of an error may be lower, whereas in a startup these could prove to be monumental. Equally you should have the comfort that you don’t need to look over the person’s shoulder on matters of integrity or otherwise as you yourself have enough on your plate to worry about.

Outsource on a project basis if required

Very often, it’s sensible to outsource or hire talent on a project basis, keeps staff costs in check and also allows you the flexibility to change resource if they are unable to deliver. Equally if the person is appointed on a project basis, chances are they will put in extra in the hope of getting further business. As the Company grows and you find the person competent you could always bring them on a full time basis on your rolls.

Get the right mix

You need to have the right mix of leaders and team players – a warped ratio can have things going off track and creating unnecessary tricky situations in the workplace. When it’s a large organisation and business is humming there is room for laxity as the system is so designed that it gets mopped up. However in a startup you don’t want to be wasting precious time trying to get people to work together as team.

My suggestion would be to spend a bit of time yourself in understanding the type of team you need, skill sets and softer areas and then take your time to find the right candidate. Follow the standard principles of reference checks, background information etc so you are reasonably sure before you say yes to the candidate.

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