One of the most significant learnings I picked up while working for a number of startups and running a few of my own is that a startup is extremely different from a large company. In a startup, you’re at it to identify and determine your selling point as well as your proposition and create an unparalleled rapport with your first key customers. This has been even mentioned and talked about in Eric Ries’ ‘The Lean Startup’.
To make it easier for startups to build a team, it would help to take a look at some of the pointers I picked up on the way:
Dream big but start really small
A tight team offers a lot of advantages. They bond faster and communicate much better. With fewer people on board who are supposed to be the corridors of power, the chances of doing experiments also rise. Accountability is also high because the number of people you can pass the blame on it are far less! And who doesn’t remember the ‘two-pizza’ quote. So start small if you wish to make it big.
Make sure everyone can do everything
A small team doesn’t mean limited skills. A lean team has no option but to be cross-functional. It’s the skill sets and diversity of all the team members that can add another dimension to the working atmosphere. A siloes approach will not work with a small team so everyone will have to contribute and pull up their socks at all times. Ask for volunteers if you think the numbers don’t add up.
Articulate assumptions with care
A lean team can only benefit from spending some extra time detailing the assumptions and experiments regarding the business to prove or disprove them. The idea of applying science to a startup is intuitive. But actually doing it takes some real practice, and perseverance. We at Sellosphere have definitely learned it the hard way! We highly recommend looking for examples to compare against your work.
Make your team smart
Invest in team trainings, focus on professional development at each level. Go for some really robust programs for your people and make sure they act as team members and not individuals. It is imperative that employees know and understand the importance of being effective contributors in making a successful team. They need to realize that a team’s collective intelligence can work wonders.
It is a no brainer that being in a startup is a learning opportunity. You’re testing waters and charting new territory with a few more people by your side. Once you stop considering yourself as a frontier observing new territory that you don’t fully understand and will take time to conquer, you’ll stop learning. This could hinder your growth and is most definitely a hand brake on your progress that you need to carefully avoid.