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How to Build the Right Team for your Startup

How to Build the Right Team for your Startup

As a new company your team matters- more than you might think. In a new venture, building a team should be a priority.

Team building is critical for several reasons. However, there are two that stand out. The first is scalability, meaning that until you build a solid team you will be forced to wear all of the hats. While this is something that almost all entrepreneurs do at some point, it’s not sustainable. At a certain point of juggling tasks yourself, the more you do the less efficient you become which is no way to build a business.

The second reason that you shouldn’t put off building a team for your startup is that your first team sets the example for everyone who comes afterward. If your initial team consists of serious go-getters, then your company will continue to attract ambitious people. On the other hand, when you go it alone you can be like a directionless leaf blowing in the wind, not knowing what to expect. If an ambitious team leads to more ambitious people coming onboard, what type of folks will an unsettled team be able to recruit?

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Building a successful startup is all about having the right team that can take on opportunities when they arise. If you can manage to get your team right, you have already won half the battle. As an entrepreneur these are lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to repeat my mistakes. Here are several crucial factors and proven strategies for building a team.

Your Company Is Only as Good as your Team.

Always remember this when hiring new members of your team. They are not just individuals working in your business. They are the business. Seek individuals from diverse backgrounds so that you are well-equipped to successfully handle every aspect of business without having to look anywhere else.

Here are tips for choosing the right team members for your startup:

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  • Be frank about your goals and expectations from the business.
  • Offer them equity with a lock-in period apart from salary.
  • Get your initial funding right to stay afloat for a few quarters.
  • Do not hesitate to choose people who have failed earlier.
  • Always lead from the front to set an example to your team.
  • Have fun with your team once in a while.
  • Be ready to let go of ideas that do not work.

Be Honest with your Team.

Building a team is not just about hiring few people to work in your company. You should look for a common connection when staffing your startup to strike the right chord within your organization.

Never hide anything from your team. Be open with them. Even if you are not sure about certain aspects of your business, make sure to convey the message to your team; this will ensure that they can trust you completely if they agree with your vision. If they’re unsure about your goals, it is better that they back out in the initial stages rather than making an exit in one of the later stages. Be clear about what you expect from them and from the business in future.

Offer Equity with Salary.

This is the standard practice offered by many successful companies all over the world. Do not hesitate to offer some equity to your initial core team. It will motivate them to put in those extra hours that are so critical to the success of any startup. However, make sure that the equity comes with a lock-in period so that you don’t lose out should teammates leave in the early stages. Keep salaries as low as possible in the starting period as it will help you manage without external funding.

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Get your Funding Right.

Whether you plan to build a product-oriented or service-oriented company, you need resources for marketing and development. Any venture capital company prefers to have a team that can run on its own- that doesn’t have to over-rely on external resources. You must always ensure that you have enough funds to run the business for a few quarters without any hiccups. Even though external financing may come at a later stage, you should not depend on it in the initial stages of your startup. There are chances that it can be delayed due to many reasons and this should not affect your team in any way. Make sure you have enough money to pay bills and salaries on time.

Don’t Fear Failure.

Are you afraid of hiring people who have failed before? You should be happy to hire such people because running a startup is like walking on thorns, and such people will have valuable experience to handle failure. They do not immediately lose motivation, and this will be a big advantage when you are faced with some challenge.

Lead your Team.

You must always lead from the front and set a good example for your team members. If there is something that you do not want to do yourself and you tell someone else to do it, it will not be taken positively. Lead your team in every aspect. If you experience setbacks, be ready to take responsibility and motivate your team to get back to work and accomplish the tasks at hand.

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Don’t Forget to Have Fun.

While running a startup comes with its own responsibilities, it should not stop you from having fun with your team. Do not let the burden of work overshadow hobbies and other activities. Also, motivate your team to enjoy their personal lives. It will help you to have employees with a relaxed frame of mind.

Few things are as crucial to an entrepreneur’s success as building the right team. There are many rewards for bringing the right people into your organization. Chief among them is creating a culture around which you can build the business, while creating a system that allows the business to run properly even without your direct input.

Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via pexels.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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