1. Build Your Foundation First.
A successful startup needs a strong foundation. Or more literally, founders. Before you bring in new hires, be clear on your leadership positions. Establish a decision-making process. Write it down and have everyone sign it. People need a clear chain of command.
Next, assess what you need help with and what positions you need to fill. Many startups rush into picking their first team. But what they don’t realize is that full-time employees aren’t the only option. It can be a good idea to start with contractors and hire after you find that they’re a good fit.
2. Find Some Rock-Stars.
We all know you need some amazing players on your team. But do you know what to look for in a rock-star?
You’re not just looking for skill. Your rock-star should have a friendly personality and demonstrated an ability to buckle down and get work done.
Most importantly, a rock-star needs adaptability. They should have multiple talents or be able to switch between multiple roles. Expertise in one area is great; proficiency in several is better. Be open to people who don’t want to limit their experience to one field. You also want someone who wants responsibility and wants to be accountable for their deliverables.
3. Prioritize Passion and Potential.
Ordinary companies shy away from hiring based on passion, but startups need a team with strong drive.
Startup jobs are stressful. They usually offer a lower base pay than corporations and require longer hours. You want employees who truly believe in your company, not someone who views you as a stepping stone.
But make sure passion isn’t your new hire’s only selling point. Potential is hard to assess, but look for:
- Recommendations from your network
- Reputable former employers on a resume
- Relevant problem-solving experiences in the interview
- Require them to prove what they can do
4. Don’t Forget Experience.
While it’s great to hire based on passion and potential, the right team will also have experience. Make sure you include someone who has startup or industry-specific experience.
Having a team member who knows the ropes will make everything easier. They won’t need extensive training, are more capable of taking on leadership roles, and can guide the team in a positive direction.
5. Check Your Compatibility.
I’m dead serious. But rather than horoscopes, check your values, goals, and personalities. Entrepreneurs often compare hiring to marriage. And it’s true you’ll be spending a lot of time together.
Make sure the rest of the team can work well with new hires too. So don’t make a snap decision. Spend your time with your potential employee, get to know them, and make sure your team has the opportunity to spend time with the candidate. They may see something positive or negative that you didn’t.
6. Define your desired business culture and find people who fit.
The first step is to assemble people who are willing and able to work together as a team. Getting subject matter experts is necessary but not sufficient.
Finding interns or family members to save money won’t work. You need team members who are aligned in their thinking and action.
7. Make sure the team embodies a common definition of success.
Find people who share your vision of success and have confidence in you and what you are setting out to do. Teams that do big things do not team casually or randomly.
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