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How do you build a great startup team?

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You can’t build a great team if you can’t recruit a team.

Think about what you can offer a potential co-founder or team member, and what that should look like for them vs not working in a start-up.

No wonder it’s hard to persuade people to join a startup:

Working for a startup Working for a normal employer
Long, unpredictable hours Reasonable, predictable hours
Too much change Not enough change
Minimum achievable compensation Good compensation
No job security Job guarantee
Great individual responsibility Responsibility is shared
Need to stack and destack the dishwasher Someone else is stacking and unstacking the dishwasher
Pizza, beer and ping pong Exuberant company parties and retreats
Ultimately, this equity could be worth something Most likely the net worth of that starting friend will be worth nothing in the end, I will keep my job, thanks.
Do I really have to be friends with these people? Nobody expects us all to be friends

For every hundred applicants with similar skills, only a few may be in a personal, financial, legal, and emotional state that would allow them to join a startup. And it is very likely that many of those people are the founders of their own startup.

If you don’t know how to find these people, start learning now

It is a common but potentially fatal mistake to wait until you have a job before starting to learn how to recruit a candidate. Since we are hiring a very hard-to-find type of candidate, for a very different kind of company, we have to think outside the box.

You will need to experiment with different messaging, different distribution channels and different interview processes to maximize our chances of finding the right candidates for your startup team.

Keep the following in mind and raise them with the founders of other startups you get to know:

  • What small, underground, secret job boards can experienced founders and team members find each other?
  • Are there things other than job boards that people use to find these types of roles at a startup?
  • If you can’t offer a lot of money, good benefits, job security or a trusted brand, what can you offer instead?

Test some of your own ideas; design experiments that help you determine whether your ideas have been validated or not. It may take time for your team members’ acquisition strategies to work effectively – perhaps a year or more. Want to do that year of experimentation before you need to hire someone, or after you need them to get to work?

You can’t control all shots

Another common mistake founders make is to think that starting jobs are a one-way street, a linear process, where the employer or hiring manager writes a job description and job description, gathers a number of candidates, interviews them, and gives employees the best candidate to do the job. do as specified in the job description.

You don’t have the time to see enough candidates to find the perfect candidate to perform the duties in the job description! What you should do instead is allow some collaboration and negotiation with some of the talented, motivated and/or experienced people who are interested enough to consider taking a big risk to join your startup.

They have their own skills, experience, ambitions and motivations, and one thing you can offer them in lieu of job security, a good salary and set hours is the opportunity to collaborate on what their job description should be.

In six months, the job has changed beyond recognition. So rent for attitude, rent for potential and rent for raw talent.

do not:

  • Enter a minimum number of years of experience
  • Specify specific academic qualifications

To do:

  • Inquire about interest in further developing skills
  • Look beyond qualifications and years of experience
  • Think of drive, determination, self-reliance and chutzpah

Don’t jump in with both feet

If possible, don’t hire full-time employees because if you can’t afford to hire one person for a position, you certainly can’t afford to hire their replacement if they aren’t working.

Hire each team member for a short project related to the type of work you want to do first and evaluate the results; then hire them as a part-time contractor, then a full-time contractor, and over time, eventually, make them a full-time employee.

Some tips for starter teams

  • Having a shared goal is the first condition for building a great team. Sharing your vision with the team is not having a shared vision. Working together on what the vision should be could be a shared vision.
  • The shared goal isn’t a mission statement at the beginning of a business plan, it’s something you and the team need to review, test with customers, learn, and change over time.
  • I’ve learned to train my dog ​​to get more of the behaviors I reward, and the same goes for working with people. You don’t get what you hope for, ask for or demand – you get what you reward. Negative rewards are just as powerful as positive rewards – sometimes people will repeat behavior because they have been disciplined in the past because they have performed in the past, because that attention is valuable to them, even if it is negative attention.
  • Diversity is the key to a high-performing team. If everyone has a similar background, they will think the same, so how will the team think differently to find new, better solutions to customer problems?
  • Micromanagement doesn’t shrink to the small size and staff budget of a startup. Work together to determine the destination and time frame, and have the team members plan and then record how they will get there.
  • Author Dan Pink says: people need autonomy (control over their work). They want to pursue mastery (work that helps them get better). They need a strong purpose (working on what’s important). They also need to feel that you trust them to make it happen.
  • Rituals are powerful. Establishing rituals (daily stand-ups, weekly meetings, one-on-one, retrospective meetings) are a powerful way to keep the team on track. However, rituals often become an end in themselves rather than a mechanism for achieving an end. Don’t let the importance of the ritual of having a stand-up outweigh the importance of a quick process and being flexible to individual needs.
  • If there’s one superpower that’s more powerful than all the others, it’s the ability to have awkward conversations now, instead of procrastinating. Feedback validates the direction and helps you with course correction. The sooner you correct the course, the shorter it will take to get there.

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