A key, and sometimes pivotal point in the life of any startup is when the time comes to put the initial team together. Finding the right group of people to pull your idea out of its infancy and guide it through to the next level is of the utmost importance. A great team can help you find success beyond what you’ve dreamed, but just one weak member can cause everything to collapse.
So with something so important, how can you be sure you’ve picked the right people? How can you be sure you’re putting your dream team together, and not creating a future nightmare? Here are six steps to help ensure that you surround yourself with a team that is destined for greatness.
Identify Starting Positions
Before bringing anyone in from outside, it’s important to decide how decisions will be made among the company founders. If you’re making a go of it on your own, it’s easy to see that you’ll be in charge, but if not, roles should be worked out and understood in advance. No matter how good your team might be, solid leadership is fundamental for success. Everyone involved in getting things off the ground should know what they are and are not responsible for.
Once founding members have agreed upon their roles and positions, it’s time to identify the other positions that will need to be filled by the team members that you’ll bring on board. You might need people to handle programming, marketing, sales, SEO, social media management etc. The exact positions will vary according to your actual business.
As you start putting together a list of position to be filled, you’ll want to make sure they are prioritized as well. Think about what needs to be done right away, and what is not so urgent. As you start looking for people, you should actively seek candidates who offer skills that other team members don’t have. When you’re trying to run mean and lean, you want to get the most talent you can out of the fewest people.
Know Your Financial Limitations
Once you’ve identified the positions that need to be filled, it’s important to make sure that you have the financial end of things planned out correctly. You’ll need to know exactly what you can afford to pay overall, as well as for each individual position.
Keep in mind that the cost of an employee goes beyond just their salary. Using marketplaces like Fundera, you can acquire a small business loan to pay for any benefits you want to offer as well as things like office furniture, cell phone expenses, travel, etc. In addition to traditional loans, there are other financial resources available to promising startups, such as microloans for small businesses, merchant cash advances for sales-based companies, invoice factoring, and more.
Lack of proper financial planning can lead to serious problems, not only for your new team, but for the business itself. Even small mistakes can lead to disastrous results.
Full Timers Vs Other Options
When thinking about how to fill the necessary positions, be sure to consider all of the options available to you. While some positions will require a full time presence, not all of them will, at least not at first.
Consultants, contractors and part-time workers might be the smarter choice in some situations. For example, you might find it more economical to work with a design or marketing firm to get your online presence established. You would be able to pay for exactly what you need, when you need it, instead of worrying about paying a salary for a full time marketing expert that might be overkill in the early stages.
Identify Your Best Candidates
When narrowing down your choices, there are four main points you should look for in each candidate:
- They have unique experience that other team members don’t have
- They come recommended – you know them, or you know someone who does
- They can start with limited salary or in exchange for a stake in the business
- They understand and are truly behind your product or service
It may be difficult to find people who fit all of the above criteria, but if you can find them, you will have the prerequisites for a stellar team.
Lay Out Your Hiring Process
Once you’ve identified some candidates, the next step is going to be interviews. If you’ve never conducted an interview before, here’s what you should do to make sure you hit all the important points:
- Prepare in advance
- Have questions in each of four categories
- Fact finding
- Problem solving
- Creative thinking
- Personal behavior
- Have an agenda for the meeting
- Watch for nonverbal clues and body language
If the interview goes well, you should do some fact and background checking before making a final decision.
Once you’ve decided to hire someone, start off slow and use initial tasks as tests to gauge performance and abilities. From there you’ll be able to see how well they fit in with your existing team and whether or not they can deliver the results you’re looking for.
As you find the right people and add them to your team, it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t stop there. You should also have strategies for ongoing training, possibilities for promotion and future career development. If your team has the opportunity to grow along with the business they are helping you create, they will remain motivated, loyal and creative. Take care of your team and they will help you take care of everything else.