How to get team members for Startups?

Finding the right team is the universal first step to building a strong and sustainable company. You succeed or fail not on the strength of your idea or your product but on the strength of your team.

I originally wrote this post on Quora dated April 17, 2017 and it quickly became one of the more popular and most shared answers for team building on Quora.

Finding the right team is the universal first step to building a strong and sustainable company. You succeed or fail not on the strength of your idea or your product but on the strength of your team. Venture capitalists fund teams, not business plans, as they know these plans can change every day as market conditions change and new opportunities present themselves. They are looking for a solid team to make these adjustments and be able to quickly pivot.

It takes great leadership to find a great team. The first team will be a stepping stone of the future the founder has envisioned for his company and the world. Finding the First Team is both an art and a science and the leader who can find high-performance teams is worth their weight in gold. Basic research suggests that how hiring for a team can have a great effect on different groups of people based on experience.

Startup-Team Fit Matrix

I have created a “Startup-Team Fit Matrix” to better understand the individual’s motivation behind joining a company at different points of life. This will give founders an idea of what to look at when building a team and what they can offer in return.

Following are the things that can be deduced from the above table:

  1. Comparing A-1-2 (For Freshers), we can see that Start-ups are able to offer four things better than MNCs:-
    1. Alignment to Goal/Mission – An inspiring long-term vision is one of the best ways to keep employees motivated to work hard toward those goals every day. Unlike a strategic business plan, a vision offers a broader picture of how your Start-up will affect change in the world. It’s your job to come up with a vision in which people feel driven to work for you, invest in your business, or buy your products.
    2. Work culture and flexibility of work – One of the perks of working for a small business or Start-up is that since there are fewer employees, people get to know each other better. Creating a positive company culture is a direct reflection of your brand and makes your company stand out as an employer of choice. By making sure that your employees are engaged and having fun at work, you can boost employee loyalty and attract the best employee recruits.
    3. Career aspirations – Another way small businesses and Start-ups have an upper-hand on large corporations is that employees have more opportunities for career advancements within a smaller organization. Instead of becoming a small part of a large, established organization, your potential employees have the chance to become a part of something progressive and dynamic.
    4. Learning environment – The best way to get and retain employees is to give them an experience they can’t get elsewhere. Big companies can offer employees lots of money, lots of perks, and in some cases, lots of equity. A Start-up’s advantage is that their employees have a responsibility, room to grow, and the ability to learn new things.
    5. Focusing on these four things while hiring, one can find a good team without spending a hefty amount of money.
  2. The same can be compared with A-1-3 and A-1-4 as well. Give what you can give and what others want. Focus on “and”. Since you can’t provide perks/brand to the senior person, you have to play along what you can and can’t offer.
  3. Following are the attributes a Start-up founder must find in potential team members:
    1. Learning Desire – A team member must have a burning desire to Learn. Knowledge is the best tool a person can have. Learn to embrace it.
    2. Creativity – Every Start-up, no matter how mundane the field of work may be, needs an employee who can come up with whacky ideas. This individual is going to be the sparkplug behind product inception. The main focus of his job should involve thinking creatively and see his ideas reach fruition.
    3. Competency – Smart Working attitude – Don’t just work hard. Work smart. A combination of hard work and smart work is efficient work.
    4. Attitude (Productivity/ Maturity/ Sensible/Reasonable) – It may seem as if skills and experience are the most important characteristics of an employee, but attitude plays just as big of a role. After all, what good are great professional skills without the attitude to see it all through? Be positive, and make your life as well as everyone around you happier and better.
    5. Independent (Self Driven)
      • Dependent employees come to work because they have to; independent employees are interested, driven, and optimistic.
      • Dependent employees see us vs. them; independent employees see us and us.
      • The dependent employee feels entitled to a paycheck. The independent employee feels he earns a paycheck by bringing value to the company.
    6. Endurance – ɪnˈdjʊər(ə)ns – The ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
  4. Trust and Transparency between a Start-up’s managers and its employees is an essential ingredient for success. Employees are loyal to employers whom they trust to include them in the vision and goals of the company, to allow them to contribute directly to the performance of the company. Trust and transparency allow employees to make decisions in a similar way to management. This increases the productivity of the Start-up.

As a Start-up founder, you might not be able to pay as much or offer the same benefits as a large corporation can. But you do have a lot to offer. Finding the opportunity in a difficult situation can bring a drastic change in the culture. Not every employee will be the right fit for your company. But by selling the advantages of working at a Start-up, you can attract many of the best. A much greater advantage over the MNCs and Enterprises.

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