The difference between a startup that succeeds and one that flops isn’t just the founder’s vision, or the market conditions, or the capital investment. Many times, the success of a startup depends on the team members behind it. It’s true with any business, but especially with a startup – if the people involved are excited, motivated, and talented, there’s a much greater chance for overall success.
Entrepreneur Lynn LeBlanc has founded two tech startups and is now the CEO of HotLink, so she knows better than anyone that a startup needs strong, highly skilled team members from the beginning.
“A good startup team needs to have [experience that] spans most of the core functional areas of a successful company,” she said. In order to put together a winning team for your startup, LeBlanc suggests finding people that meet the following criteria.
- They have experience you and the rest of the team don’t have. By hiring people with varied backgrounds and areas of expertise, you increase your talent pool and range. If you have an operational background, but aren’t a creative or marketing person, it makes sense to hire someone that can handle the creative/marketing side of the business. That way, you all complement each other by filling in the areas where others might be weak. Not everyone can be good at everything!
- You know them, or they know each other. Sounds a little like nepotism, but it’s important for startups to know and trust the people on the team. Of course, hiring unqualified family or friends is a bad idea and will only lead to disaster (and maybe an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner). But, it is important that you are confident in the person’s abilities and just as importantly, that they will be a personality fit with you and the rest of the team. If you don’t know someone with the specific area of expertise that you need, tap into the rest of your team to suggest people that they know.
- They can work for a limites salary at first. Seems obvious, but someone that’s not financially stable, no matter how talented, just can’t afford to work for a startup. Your team will need to be able to live on a limited salary at first so that you can save money on payroll and ensure more flexibility in your businesses’ finances.
- They are excited about your product/service. When money isn’t the motivating factor (and really, even if it is), it’s extremely important that your team wants to use your product or service. Your team members should live and breathe the product/service, drink the Kool-Aid, and act as brand evangelists. Sometimes, startups make the mistake of hiring people that aren’t even close to the end-user profile. These people participate in the product/service development process, which can lead to problems.
A successful startup requires the right “magic” mix of talent, market conditions, and sheer force of will. But, with the right talent backing your endeavor, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goals.