Startups fail at an alarming rate of 92%. Very rarely, it is because of a bad idea. In fact, most startup ideas are brilliant and very connected to the problem they are looking to solve. They fail due to bad execution, which is a result of bad teams coming together.
A good team is important for the success of any project. However, in the case of the startup teams, the team can be the difference between success or failure of the company itself. It is incredibly important to get get the first hires right, because the lifeline of your organization depends on these few but crucial people.
Building a startup requires a mix of people with different skills and experiences, strengths and weaknesses. What matters is how equipped the team is to complement each other and inch forward. It is easier said than done, because startup founders are prone to hiring mistakes- due to financial crunch, or eagerness to get the product off the ground, or make up for deficiencies in the current team.
Here are the five people that you absolutely need on your startup team:
- The Generalist
Startups are places where you will see people double up in multiple roles, simply because your resource constraints do not allow you the luxury to allow you to use only one skillset. Even though companies may be able to afford specialists for specific jobs at a later stage, startups often survive on generalists.
The generalist is a person not afraid of treading new waters and is willing to learn. He is so good at taking responsibility that he becomes the go-to person for new hires in the company, because there is hardly anything he doesn’t know about the company.
- The Visionary
The founders of a startup are people who come together from diverse backgrounds to work towards a common passion. These people would typically have forgone other(easier) opportunities, and are committed to doing so in exchange for the thrill of creating something. In short, these people are visionaries. A major driver for this core team is passion and a vision.
The visionary remains faithful to his vision, while being flexible with the ways he can achieve it. The visionary is crucial because the ethos of the company takes shape from this vision.
- The Hustler:
The hustler is the person on the team who gets things done. It may be by finding an existing solution or creating his own unique solution to solve a problem, but work it out, he will. He will be fast-paced, a stickler with deadlines and yes, very impatient. He is unlikely to be the most popular person on the team, but this is likely the guy who sees projects past the goal line.
The hustler is an asset to the startup team, because, in many ways, he sets precedents on getting things done and setting expectations within the company.
- The Doer
The doer is the person who not only directs his team to do the right thing but actually gets his hands dirty. In a typical startup, the leader is a person who dynamically searches for where there is a gap, and pitches in to help. This is one of the reasons good startup teams also share a rare camaraderie, because they come together through actions and not just work.
Hiring beyond the core team
Hiring the next level of employees in your startup means that you have had some success with your products and ideas and are looking for fresh hands and brains to infuse your startup with new life.
However, hiring for a startup beyond the core team is a challenge in itself.
For one, because it is hard to find the level of passion that founders come with. In most cases, the next level of hires tend to look at your company as just another job.
Here are 2 things that help while hiring beyond the core team:
- Strive to find the right fit:
For a startup, finding the right fit is not just about skillsets. It’s about attitude, beliefs and trust. One of the best ways to hire is to allow people to work in your environment for a short window of time- say, one week before making a hiring decision. This window allows both the potential hire to understand how his work day will look every day, and the employer to make a fair assessment of the skills that fit, or the attitude that will make up for a certain lack of skills. In cases where it does not work out, it helps to communicate firmly, but respectfully that there is a mismatch.
- Beware of bad attitude:
Sometimes, startups might find themselves arm-twisted into keeping a person with a bad attitude because he has a unique expertise that is important to the company. Tempting as it may be, one bad hire and there here is a danger of diluting the culture that has been built with some much passion. Frankly, it doesn’t really take much for bad attitude to trickle down because the team is really small and clustered. It is crucial to reconcile their interests and skill sets with what your company needs the most.
For a startup, people are as important as the idea. And while expertise is a non-negotiable asset, attitudes and values are what can determine a meaningful association as a team with a common vision.