Regardless of how amazing your individual start-up idea may be, every start-up guru knows the most important element of a start-up is not the idea, but rather the team working on its creation and development. The assembly of the right team for the job can save entrepreneurs’ time and money that are at risk to be wasted if team assembly is not as amazing as the start-up idea itself.
Last week in class, we learned the power of researching ideas to help out with start-up activities like creating a business plan, validating your business model, and creating “buyer personas” for your customers. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear Stephen’s advice, as I was not in class last Thursday, so I followed suite on the research tip and looked for start-up team development best practices. During my search, I came across an article written by entrepreneur and investor John Rampton that identifies five key steps, which I will refer to as areas of focus, when assembling a start up team.
Area 1: Identify Positions
Area 2: Advisers, Contracts, Partners vs. Full Timers
Area 3: Identify Candidates
Area 4: The Hiring Process
Area 5: Post-Hire
Each of these focuses requires specific behaviors by the entrepreneur and can be completed through a number of approaches.
Identifying positions is essential for any team that wants to function in an organized manner. This is the most important step for the founder (and cofounder) to take because it establishes how the startup will operate and who it will be operated by. Once positions are identified, you can begin to think about what skills are most valuable to each position. After you determine the skill set needed, you’ll gain better understanding of what type of candidate you want to seek for the job.
Once you identify positions and skillsets, you can better determine how often you need to use your employee services and whether or not you need to reach out for external consulting. Some employees may not need to be full-time and you may not know enough to handle certain operations in-house. The earlier you recognize this, the better.
After you’ve determined what positions you want on the team and when their services are needed, you should then identify candidates fit for the job. For the entrepreneur who may not know other entrepreneurs or potential candidates, use of start-up team blogs may be a great place to start. When choosing candidates, entrepreneurs should always consider assets identified in “Step 1 and Step 2”.
As with all organizations, your identification of candidates should be followed by implementation of the hiring process. In my opinion, there is not one go to hiring process that must be followed other than the creation of a hiring process that allows the employer to learn more about the candidate than what is on the resume. For idea protection purposes, I think it is critical to identify why the candidate wants to work for your start up. When developing the hiring process, the employer should be sure to include an interview process that helps identify candidate nonverbal behaviors and true passions.
Once you have employees, it’s time to make sure they are adequately trained to further progress the start-up. As the founder or cofounder of the company, it is your responsibility to make sure the team has access to the developmental resources they need to strengthen their work. Establishing a formal training, promotion, and career development process is not only beneficial for the employee, but is also critical to the continued success of the team.
Team development is critical to the success of any start-up; thus, it must be handled with care. No matter how you go about developing your team, you want to make sure critical elements like identifying positions, hiring candidates, and on-going training are properly planned for.