How to create a great start-up team

In order to give your start-up the best chance of both survival and success, you need to surround yourself with a strong team, writes Stephen Larkin.

Nine out of ten start-ups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but one that every aspiring entrepreneur should now.

Why? Well it’s hard to point to one area for this. It can be caused by a number of things. However, of those that fail, it is suggested that poorly created teams is a large reason for this.

“If your ultimate goal is to be a leading company one day, then share that vision with your current and future employees. Make them see the big picture”

The road for an entrepreneur starting off is very difficult. He or she will have to make every decision for the business from the business plan, to the marketing strategy, to the finances, to the selling. This can often be the reason for start-ups failing as the owner hasn’t got the relevant skills to tackle all of these areas.

In order to give your start-up, the best chance of both survival and success, you need to surround yourself with a strong team. Having the right start-up team is half the battle. Investors are not only listening to your pitch, but they are also interested in your team’s dynamic.

No matter how strong an idea you have, the fate of your start-up ultimately rests on the shoulders of your team. After all, it could take only one weak member to bring down your entire business.

Start-up founders should focus on quality, rather than quantity, and the best way to unearth that quality is by making as many connections as possible and learn about people’s drive and passion.

Here are eight steps to follow when building your start-up dream team.

Define the company’s culture

People helping each other up a mountain.

The best performing businesses, be they multinationals or SMEs, have strong cultures. They may or may not have mission statements stuck on their walls. But they certainly know who they are and what they are about.

Workplace culture is simple: you need to have a clear purpose and a set of values that your staff know and care about. Engaged employees take ownership of their workplaces. They are the best advocates for your business and your brands.

The best place to start is your business plan, which should be the north star for founders, staff and potential investors and lenders to read into the vision and stay on track.

Identify Positions

The most important members of your team are the founder(s). Before hiring anyone else, you, and your co-founder if you have one, have to decide on how decisions will be made within the start-up. Once that has been agreed upon, you should identify the positions that need to be filled in order to complete your team.

Jobs in sales, marketing, finance and project management are just a handful of examples of positions that will need to be filled. When identifying these positions, make sure that you prioritise them and find people with talents that can drive the business forward. Keep in mind how much money you have in the bank to pay for the positions you require.

Hiring process

After you’ve identified the areas that need to be filled, it’s time to hire your first staff. After you’ve narrowed down the candidates for the role, you can proceed to the interviews. An interview will give you an insight into their attitude towards their work. You can also take this opportunity to discuss their salary expectations in the early stages of your start-up. At this stage, do not be shy from being picky.

Following the interview, do some fact-checking and a background check on the potential employee. If everything goes smoothly, go ahead and hire the individual. Once that person has been considered, give him or her tests. Start with a smaller project and work up to larger tasks. During these tests, you can see how the prospective hire communicates with other team members and handles pressure, and whether he or she can actually get the job done.

Share your vision

blue and white paper boats beside a compass.

If your ultimate goal is to be a leading company one day, then share that vision with your current and future employees. Make them see the big picture. This allows them to stay motivated and committed to contributing to company growth. 

Be candid about your vision with the candidates you interview. It’s great to be honest about this since not everyone likes to work in a big corporate setting. By sharing your vision, you attract the best candidates with the same goals. Additionally, having an ongoing discussion about your future goals with your team helps everyone stay on the same page and prepare for changes when necessary.

Assigning roles

Now that the initial stage of the team building programme is almost complete, start by assigning roles and responsibilities to the team. You can start by assigning small projects and increasing the complexity progressively. This is one of the most reliable team building methods to test out the pressure handling capacity and team involvement of the individuals.

Offer training

As technology advances and workplace methods and strategies improve, there comes a need for employers and employees to align with these changes in terms of knowledge, skills, values and abilities. One of the best ways to enhance knowledge and skills is through training.

Implementing training programs in the workplace will help employees feel like the company is invested in them. By continuing to teach your employees new skills and abilities, they will not just become better workers, they will feel like more productive members of the organisation. This will improve their morale as well as their workplace capabilities.

Regular meetings

Team meetings are so important, especially when you are a young business. They are an essential part of building a team and achieving the team’s objectives. Holding regular meeting offers an open opportunity to come together, reflect on progress and help each other. These meetings will help improve the general performance of the team and the productivity of individual members, while also identifying areas that make need to be reviewed.

Provide regular feedback

A feedback-rich culture, where people are comfortable asking for and receiving feedback, can really change how a workplace operates. Though receiving feedback can be daunting for people, it’s also absolutely necessary if you want to create motivated and high-performing teams.

Feedback gives people an opportunity to look at themselves in a different light. It helps them see how others perceive them, and the impact that their behavioural style and ways of working has on others in the team. Feedback, both negative and positive, confirms to the employee that what they are doing matters. It is important for them to know that their contribution is valued.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 4 December 2020