For many start-ups or SME’s, having that great business idea is just a tiny part of the equation. Turning the initial vision of the founder into reality is where the real challenge lies, and if you’re to get it right, you’ll need to surround yourself with a team – no matter how big or small – that will complement your own particular aptitude or abilities.
When it comes to assembling a team, here are 6 qualities that you should look to attract.
The ability to complement you. You may have a particular qualification, such as accountancy or engineering for example, but this won’t make you an expert in marketing, production, HR or any of the countless areas that will make up a successful business. When assembling your team, you need to be mindful not just of the vocational qualifications of the individual members, but also look to see what other qualities they may have that could make a contribution.
For example, you might well have to hire an accountant from Day 1 but can get away without a HR boss till your company has grown a little. Spotting an accountant who seems to have some really great people skills would give you the opportunity to have some ‘double jobbing’ going on in the early days of your company’s development.
A passion for your idea. Passion on its own is not a magic bullet, but if your team aren’t passionate about your big idea from the outset, then it’s unlikely to end in success. This is why the initial interview is so important. It gives you a fantastic opportunity to see what the energy levels of the candidate look like, and whether there’s a fit between you in terms of that hard-to-define sense of get-up-and-go. You can often assess passion for an idea or for a cause by referencing the questions that are asked by the candidate. Is he seeing opportunities that you hadn’t spotted, for example?
Only ever pick self-starters. You simply won’t have time to constantly check up on your team and need to trust them to get on with things off their own bat. Assembling a team who can work on their own initiative is critical to ultimate success, so make sure you talk to previous employers as part of the reference-checking procedure to make sure that the candidate has a track record of working well without constant supervision.
A flexible approach. While well-established companies may be fairly set in their ways, with clear lines of responsibility and tried and tested ways of doing things, this most definitely does not apply to new start-ups. The early years of a company can demand all sorts of sacrifices from staff, perhaps working late or at weekends to submit new business pitches, or perhaps having to travel extensively to develop clients.
Hiring someone with a typical nine to five mentality makes no sense if you’re looking to give yourself the edge you need as your business finds its feet, so look for people who are fired up by the challenge rather than overawed by it.
Look for start-up specialists. There’s something truly unique about the challenges that face start-ups versus established companies. On the plus side of the coin, however, it’s a terribly exciting place to be, and seems to attract a particular sort of individual who’s open to controlled risk-taking and blazing new trails. It makes sense, therefore, to hire them – Members who have been down this road before, even if in a completely different industry sector.
Relevant industry experience. If your start-up is in the areas of new technology, putting together a team that’s cut its teeth in retail, for example, makes very little sense. Relevant experience just can’t be trumped, so looking for staff who have a genuine understanding of your industry sector makes absolute sense. And taking this same example of a company starting up in the technology space, it would also be highly useful to have experience in the financial aspects of the task, e.g. how do you deal with venture capitalists, or how can you retain as much of your company’s equity when you need to raise a serious amount of capital.