How to Build Startup Team

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Startup Team

Startup team- When to build

Your biggest challenge will be building a great team.-- John Doerr

Startup businesses have to be lean in the beginning.

A start- up having 2-3 promoters and who take up different roles in running the business or the sole proprietor who can manage the business with the support of family members can afford to hire employees a later stage. The employees need to be hired right from the beginning in some start-ups like manufacturing or a franchises.

Time- Critical Element of Startup Entrepreneur

Startup entrepreneur has to devote time to build network, acquire customers, manage money etc. The entrepreneur also needs to spend time in shaping the organization by focussing  on strategic issues to meet medium /long term goals.

In any business, there are routine jobs, which are also important like follow up of material supplies, paying utility bills, follow up of customer payments, attending customer calls etc. The entrepreneur should avoid spending time on these activities once the business has acquired reasonable number of customers. Building team has to start at this stage.

Entrepreneur Mindset for building team

 Before getting the first employee on board startup should  know how to manage employee expectations while balancing the  organizations’ requirement .

      i.        Walk the talk

     ii.        Willing to delegate

    iii.        Set Goals / Expectations

    iv.        Be a part of the team

     v.        Coach the new hires

    vi.        Reward & Recognition

   vii.        Multi Task

  viii.        Celebrate Success with the team

    ix.        Transparency

Hiring Options

It is better to hire experienced staff, on part- time basis than entrust the job full time to a raw recruit. This way the entrepreneur need not waste time in  training on follow-ups or  worry whether things will be handled right in his absence.

i)              Outsourcing delivery and book  keeping etc

ii)             Hire temps or on contract

iii)            Full time employees 

Sourcing of Employees

   i.        Entrepreneurs’ own  Network

     ii.     Head Hunters for small businesses

    iii.      Colleges & Universities

Employee Attributes

      i.        Passionate Individuals

     ii.        Willing to multitask

    iii.        Need Salary for survival

    iv.        Not looking for a 9-5 job

Selection Process

Develop a selection process matrix giving with higher score for a critical.skill

A written test to assess technical skills required for the job.

 Startup with partners can conduct individual interviews and share notes on assessment.

Do not look for an  exact clone of you. You will never get a perfect fit.

Interview alone may not be the best option. Hire employees on a three-month contract basis. This will enable the entrepreneur to assess whether they fit  in with the culture of the organization.

Composition of team

 If  the startup team is young and employees are in their twenties , then  it will be advisable to have one middle aged person (40+) in  an administrative role who may bring in stability to the team. 

Post Hiring

 Building a team is a continuous process. It does not end when someone is hired. This means having strategies in place for training, promotion, and career development which  serve as incentives.

Sweat equity / stock options will help in retaining talented employees. Communicating and interacting as often as possible with employees is crucial and the time invested in this will pay rich dividend.

Startup entrepreneurs have a dream and they are the ones who will be sowing the seeds of work culture.

The more people we have on our team, the less room there is in the elevator and the more complicated everything gets. -- David Karp- Founder-Tumblr

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Startup Team -A case study of a small manufacturing unit 

Ian , an entrepreneur, was aware that he could not compete with large players in acquiring skilled workers.

He himself was not an engineer. Therefore, he worked in the shop floor of a friend’s fabrication shop and learnt the ropes before he started his business. He hired only unskilled workers who were earlier farm laborers without a steady income. Most of them had completed only primary education. He trained them and paid salary on par with large industries.  

Even after two decades  those employees still work with him.