How to Build a Dream Team as an Entrepreneur (for Startups)
The purpose of this guide is to help you build your startup from a team of one to a team of many. You’ll know how to identify your startup needs, find the right people to fill those needs, and how you can bring those people together to create a high-performing team.
If you want to get your ideas off the napkin and on the ground running, it can be helpful to prioritize the growth of your team. These are people that you can mold into your workflow, and bridge the gap between your expertise and business knowledge. Not only will you have to expand it, but also make sure these individuals have a strong foundation to launch from.
Have a Clear Vision for Your Startup
If you’re reading this you probably have an ideal plan for your business, but the development ofa business ideastill has to be completed. Either way, solidifying the vision is a great first step toward a clearer direction.
Once you’ve outlined your idea or “vision”, set SMART goals for building your future team. As a refresher, these are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. They can always be adjusted throughout the different stages of your startup so don’t limit yourself, or feel limited to sticking to your original plan.
During the stage of crafting your business’s vision, find individuals to network with and learn from. They may have gone through a similar process before, or have a well-rounded knowledge of establishing a startup. If conversations go well, and you build trustworthy work relationships with others, you can always further the mentorship process and ask them to be an advisor for your startup team.
These don’t have to be full-time employees, but more of a mentor or phone call away if you needed a helping hand. Without one, you could be missing out on necessary industry and experience-based knowledge so take additional time to prioritize those networking events, and connect with as many people on LinkedIn as you can!
Once your advisor or board of advisors is established, make sure to take the time to review expectations and schedules with them. Take their areas of expertise and experience into consideration when developing a strategic plan for your business. ask questions such as: How involved will they be in the process? Will there be weekly or monthly meetings?
Evaluate Your Startup Needs
As an entrepreneur, you may pride yourself on being self-sufficient and independent, but you doing everything by yourself can actually lead to burnout. Skills that you may lack, another person could really excel at. Instead of thinking that you can do everything the best way, delegate the tasks to other people and work along with their strengths to help build your business.
Write down what skills you can improve upon, and what the main needs of your business are, and find the gaps in between each to create roles for your future team. Remember, self-awareness and honesty are key to benefit from this exercise.
Hiring people who are different from you helps to create a well-rounded team with a diverse skill set. Diversity leads to more creative solutions to problems. Hiring people who are not only equipped with different skills and backgrounds but also different personalities and interests can lead to more success. While keeping diversity in mind, there are a few key abilities and traits that you should also look for when bringing on team members.
First and foremost, startups can be completely unpredictable. Most of the time, they may be strapped for resources, tools, and possibly money. You will want people who can bounce back from mishaps that are bound to happen when you’re working in a company that’s in its early
stages. People who are adaptable, innovative, and capable of multitasking will thrive in this ever-changing and evolving work environment.
Use Your Connections to Your Advantage
This may seem obvious, but making connections is essential when you’re recruiting new business team members. Take advantage of networking events, industry-focused workshops, and other opportunities that may broaden your social reach.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to first find someone (or maybe even multiple people) you trust to serve as an advisor on your team. Depending on what you’ve identified as your business needs, you’ll need people to fill those roles. Typically, the starting lineup of any company will include these positions:
Chief executive officer
Chief marketing officer
Chief financial officer
Chief technology officer
Business development manager
Customer service expert
However, don’t feel tied down to building your dream team around these positions. You can adjust or delegate multiple roles to team members.
If you feel like the number of connections is looking limited, don’t hesitate to use hiring platforms to build your team too. Indeed, Linkedin and Glassdoor are reliable for finding and recruiting top talent. If you’re not confident using this method by yourself, consider involving your advisor in the hiring process. They can assist you in interviewing and choosing candidates, and it never hurts to have a second opinion on something that’s going to affect your business.
Another thing to have handy in the hiring process is an employee checklistfor candidates you’ve decided to move forward with. You’ll want to make sure your employees are set up for success early on in your business beginnings. On the note of successful beginnings, make sure your team is properly compensated whether it’s monetary or otherwise from the start of employment.
Take your advisors, for example, they’re not just doing you a favor by mentoring you through your startup journey. There are a few ways to go about compensating advisors, one of the most common is to utilize the FAST Agreement from the Founder Institute. This is a flexible approach to providing compensation as it depends on the company’s maturity and the level of advisor engagement.
As for your other team members, you may be wondering how you can not only compensate top talent but also entice them to work for you. For startups strapped for financial resources, it might seem like working for a startup is undesirable. Job seekers might opt for work at a larger company with higher pay and better benefits. But, how long does it take until those benefits are outweighed by a lack of satisfaction?
It all depends on an employee’s value, and how they are able to connect with your start-up’s overall mission. Even though a larger company is most likely more established, it does not mean they are prioritizing employee growth and opportunity. It’s all about how you advertise your business to those who you want to hire. Relate to an audience and show them that, even though you’re smaller and in a more development phase, it could give them a lot of experience!
Working at a startup and on a smaller team fosters a sense of belonging and purpose as well. There is a clear goal for the team to work towards, and reaching that goal is the most satisfying feeling. Furthermore, a startup with a clear vision and personable leadership is more attractive than a big corporation with less than ideal morals and goals. As stated earlier, a startup may lack resources and constantly change. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, it gives employees a challenge that they can benefit from professionally.
Making and utilizing connections is an effective way to form a team but it’s also crucial for finding support outside of your internal team. You’ll need people to advocate for your startup to help you achieve your goals. Accelerator programs are a great resource for breaking through a heavily saturated market.
Rafael Ilishayevand Yakir Gola, co-founders of the delivery company Gopuff, understood the importance of having an advocate in the early stages of a startup through their small business accelerator program. These are great for business-minded people who are starting their own companies because it gets them in front of the right people to find funding or other resources that can set them up for success.
If you’re looking to expand, take advantage of the resources and opportunities that these company-created programs give you especially as you’re growing your team. And who knows, maybe one day you can give back to the entrepreneurial community with your own accelerator program or fund!
Instill Strong Values In Your Team
When you have finally assembled your team, consider having them take a personality assessment. This test can give you an idea of how individuals will work with you and the rest of your team. Remember, it’s less about who is on the team and more about how the team works together. Once you’ve done this, you know how your team can most efficiently work together.
But, that’s not the end of things. What foundation are efficient and high-performing teams built on? A few things; trust, consistent communication, respect, and honesty. If your team consists of people with all these traits, they’re more likely to be there to support you and each other. From day one, you need to set up the expectations of these values for your team.
Re-evaluate Your Team as Needed
Now that you have your team and know how best to work with each other, it’s important to keep track of your progress as a business. If you find your team is missing something, like a specific skill set or perspective, consider bringing someone on to help. You can either hire someone to fill a role on your internal team or you can outsource an individual or an entire team.
Let’s say you’re lacking the marketing tools to propel your business and you find your team unsure of how to tackle this issue. Ask yourself, “Do I hire a team to do in-house marketing, or should I outsource?” While there is no right or wrong answer to this question, and it depends on what works best for your business, this outsourcing vs hiring guidemay help you find perspective on what to do if you find yourself in a situation like this.
At the end of the day, your team is what makes or breaks the success of your startup. Hence the saying you’ve probably heard countless times, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” By utilizing the tips mentioned above, you’ll build the startup team of your dreams in no time.
6 Powerful Leadership Principles to Bring Out the Best in Your People
As a business growth coach I am often asked the question, “What’s your advice on achieving fast business growth?”
My one line response, “Never try to do it alone.”
Whether you are the CEO or a key manager, the quickest road to fast business growth is through having a team of committed people. Strong development is what will allow you to laser focus on your core areas of competencies and not fall into the trap of wearing too many hats, which will only slow you down. (more…)
With a job market that’s in a continual state of flux, many entrepreneurial-minded professionals are thinking of a great business idea and looking for ways to earn extra money on the side, sometimes supplementing income lost through downsizing, layoffs, or being underemployed. Chances are, you have a lot of marketable skills you might not have realized could be potential moneymakers. A little bit of research can put you on the path to making your mark in the gig economy.
How To Monetize Your Skill Sets – What Can You Do?
Sit down and make a list of all the things you’re skilled at. You could consider skill sets learned through prior training, education, job experience, or even hobbies you enjoy. For example, if you’ve always been a math whiz, tutoring might be a revenue stream.
If you’re a marketing or social media guru, you could hire yourself out as a corporate consultant. If you’re an exceptional cook or baker, you may find a calling working as a caterer or event planner.
Assess all of your skills, talents, and the things you enjoy doing and consider the monetary potential behind applying those skills to revenue generation.
Consider What’s In Demand
If you’re a multi-talented person, you might be best served to explore opportunities in fields that are in high demand and finding a way to capitalize on them. For example, according to Entrepreneur, if you search online job boards, you’re likely to get a good feel for the type of services people typically hire out for.
This could be anything from bookkeeping to personal assisting, pet care, mystery shopping, automotive repair, child care, landscaping, or interior design.
Doing a bit of research will help you recognize not only skills that are easy to monetize, but Nolo points out you’ll also get a feel for what others in similar occupations charge for their services.
Whether you decide to freelance for a couple of hours a week as a side gig or launch a full-fledged operation, you’re wise to establish yourself as a small business owner. This includes deciding on a corporate structure, like a sole proprietor or limited liability company.
You’ll also need to write a business plan, get a business license, set up a business bank account, create a website and basic marketing materials, and establish a presence on social media.
Going through all of these steps will allow you to present yourself in a professional way that will help you attract customers.
If you’re interested in learning a new skill or further developing an existing one, consider going back to school for a business degree as a way to expand your professional opportunities.
Online educational offerings not only provide a wide variety of learning modalities, but you also have the benefit of being able to study from anywhere, often on your own timetable.
This allows you to work, care for children, and build your business, all while advancing your education. Grants, scholarships, and loans can help you finance your educational journey.
Buy Into A Franchise
If you’re interested in being a business owner, but you aren’t sure where to start, what to do, or how to operate, you might consider looking at franchise opportunities. Buying into ownership of an established and recognizable brand can provide the blueprint you need for small business operations.
It’s wise to conduct your due diligence in advance so you have a solid understanding of the pros and cons of various franchise opportunities before moving ahead. In particular, exploring financing options will help you make the most informed decisions.
Learn To Network
Once you decide what you’d like to do, building a customer base is the first priority. You can join chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, small business development centers, or other networking groups in your area.
According to Copper Connection, this can help you secure leads, make connections, and network with those in your industry and in adjacent industries.
Once you start building a clientele, ask for referrals from happy customers as a way to continue building your operations. Customer service will be important to establishing a good reputation in your industry.
It can be a tricky prospect to manage your finances when you’re working a side hustle or attempting to launch a small business operation. Create budgets and marketing agendas, keep good records, and give careful consideration to both income and expenditures to ensure you’re moving in the right direction from a financial perspective. You don’t want to make the mistake of taking on so much work that you’re unable to service all clients in a professional manner.
While it can be a challenge looking for new revenue streams when you’re underemployed or need to supplement your income, taking advantage of your own personal skill sets can open a number of doors to new, financially viable opportunities.
Paramount Business Coach can help you narrow the focus of your business-generating options and help you develop a plan of action for moving forward. Book a free consultation or reach out for more information on the benefits of business coaching.
Created on June 26, 2013 Written by CNN Staff Writer Ask a Small Business Expert: Yoon Cannon
Yoon Cannon is an author, motivational business growth keynote speaker and highly sought after business coach. She delivers dynamic, high content, inspiring messages to audiences across the US and internationally. She has helped thousands of business owners and executives rapidly increase sales, productivity and profits. She has served audiences in: B2B, Direct Sales, Healthcare/Bio Tech, Family-Owned Businesses, Franchises, IT Companies, Law Firms, Small Business, Sales Teams and more.
Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She knows what it takes to attract a steady flow of new clients. Her first business was a marketing company which quickly grew into 6 new branch locations managing 30-80 sales reps on her team. Yoon’s depth of insights as a business growth expert will help your audiences improve results in accelerating their business growth.
1. What is your business background? Over the past 20 years I have started 4 other successful companies and sold 3 of them.
2. What challenges did you have to overcome?
Many. I once put too much trust in one of my managers who ended up stealing my clients and starting her own business losing a value of a quarter million dollars in life cycle value.
3. What advice do you give to startups who are struggling?
a) Define your VALUE – Differentiate your product or service from the competition. Customers purchase b) Troubleshoot the ISSUE – Identify where the gap is in your business.
c) Understand and define your TARGET MARKET – When I coach entrepreneurs with struggling businesses too often their target market is just not specific enough. Many businesses may have several different types of target market.
d) Put up the “bat signal” for HELP – An experienced business coach can serve as your guide and mentor to accelerate turning your business around.
4. How can an entrepreneur choose the right business coach?
A. Make sure the business coach has had experience starting and growing their own successful businesses and not just their current biz of business coaching. A business coach coming from a corporate background doesn’t understand what it’s like to be that entrepreneur who is wearing all the hats. Of course, don’t ever go with a coach who makes you feel “stupid” … there’s a lot if that out there
B. have the business coach present to you a process that makes sense to you that will take them from where you are to where you want to be.
*This article was originally published in Fortune magazine Written by Elaine Pofeldt Published on October 31, 2013 @ 10:50 AM EDT
Not all small-business owners intend to stay small forever, but few take the time to map out a strategy for their growth. A recent survey by the National Small Business Association found that most don’t have a new ad or marketing campaign in the works, and one in five has absolutely no growth strategy in place for the coming year.
Instead, many entrepreneurs move toward new opportunities like a plant seeking sunshine, going where the light is most easily found. Some never slow down to consider whether those jobs are profitable, rewarding, or ultimately efficient uses of their time.
The key is not always to think big at the start — it’s to focus. With these tips, you’ll learn how to hone your strategy, cultivate the growth you want, and pay for your build-out safely and wisely.
FOCUS YOUR GROWTH STRATEGY
Even if it means turning away business.
To create a business capable of blossoming for years, you’ll have to prune it from time to time. Working with customers or offering products that can’t achieve healthy profit margins can sap time and stifle growth, says Nat Wasserstein, managing director of Lindenwood Associates, which helps turn around small and midsize businesses. So thin out ventures and customers that bleed your energy.
1. Figure out which services are worth it. Giving clients what they want is important, but it should never be your only criterion for the products or services that you provide.
When architect Bruce Wentworth considered expanding his 12-person company — Wentworth Inc. in Chevy Chase, Md. — he thought about what his firm excelled at: combining transitional-style interior design, which blends modern and traditional finishes, with detail-oriented construction. And he discovered there isn’t enough profit in projects below $50,000. “By the time we get involved in design, construction drawings, pricing, and permits, it’s not the most efficient use of time,” he says. The firm’s sweet spot is in the mid- to high-end market — kitchen remodeling, for instance, ranging from $70,000 to more than $300,000.
2. Rank your customers by their “value.” Pay attention to the quality of your clients: Are they high or low profit? Are they high or low maintenance? “You want to retain those customers who represent your highest profit margin,” says Yoon Cannon, founder of Paramount Business Coach, a small-business consulting firm in Pennsylvania. Even better: Find ways to cultivate more business from those clients.
Start by calculating the “value” of each customer, according to what they bring in annual profits, revenue, and effort. Then rank them, and focus like a laser on the top 20%.
3. Prioritize potential clients too. In 2008, Harry and Barb Haagen, who run a house-painting company with six employees, began to worry when sales dipped by more than 10% in the economic downturn.
The couple, from Doylestown, Pa., came up with a counterintuitive fix: They looked for ways that they could winnow the business even more. Harry recognized his strength was in craftsmanship, not low-cost jobs. So Barb, who handles the phones, began screening callers. To those interested only in price, she explained the added value Harry provides. If that didn’t hook them, she moved on, freeing up time to focus on customers willing to pay for premium services. The strategy has paid off: Sales are up 15% this year.
ATTRACT THE GROWTH YOU SEEK
Use the follwoing growth strategy to target clients.
Digital marketing can be a cost-effective way to stand out. Yet a recent survey found that few small-business owners think that using social media (11%) or search engine optimization (6%) is that useful. Don’t let such opportunities go to waste.
Follow the growth strategy checklist checklist:
Choose the right platform. Everyone uses Google AdWords to advertise online, but that can be pricey. The average cost per click in the business category was recently $1.98, according to a study by Adgooroo. For a cheaper alternative (91¢), try the Yahoo Bing Network.
It’s no bit player. Yahoo Bing accounts for nearly a third of all online search in the U.S. And while Google generally delivers more ad impressions, Adgooroo found that the lead is not that great in four of six major categories: business, computers, education, and travel. In finance Yahoo Bing actually leads. Yet costs per click were 23% to 63% cheaper. For B2B firms, LinkedIn is another cost-effective ad platform.
Select the right words. Seeking to grab customers using search engines to find businesses like yours? Incorporate growth strategically throughout your site words customers are apt to look up, says Heather Lutze, CEO of Findability Consulting & Speaking in Denver.
One way Jeb Brooks, CEO of the Brooks Group, a sales training firm in Greensboro, N.C., identifies those words is simple: He asks clients when he meets them. One recent post on his blog was called “The Value of Public Sales Training: Getting Coaching and Ideas From Outside Your Industry.”
Pick the right crowd. Social media is all about finding the right fit. Offer visually oriented services or products? Then Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are good places to hang out, says Evan Bailyn, author of Outsmarting Social Media. Interested in B2B? Then use LinkedIn and SlideShare.net, which let you introduce yourself to clients through posted research and presentations.
Stand out visually. Use some of your Facebook budget to create videos, says Ben Landers, CEO of digital-marketing firm Blue Corona. Research by the social media firm Zuum found that videos were shared 11% of the time, vs. less than 3% for status updates and under 7% for photos.
Track your results. More than half of all small-business owners fail to measure the results of their marketing efforts. So they don’t see what’s working and what’s not.
Yet for just $200, Landers notes, you can hire a developer to customize the free Google Analytics program for you to identify the precise channel through which each visitor came to your website.
FINANCE YOUR GROWTH WISELY
Be relentless when it comes to preserving your cash.
If you grow faster than planned, even a momentary cash crunch can have a lasting effect. “Not stocking enough cash is probably why the majority of firms go out of business,” says Bill Klein, president of Consero Global, a financial consulting and outsourcing firm that works with small and midsize companies.
To avoid a cash crunch, take a page from SpareFoot, an online search firm based in Austin that is trying to become the Hotels.com for self-storage space.
1. Monitor your cash flow maniacally. Part of making your firm attractive to a lender down the road is ensuring that there aren’t wide gaps between money flowing in and out. At SpareFoot, owners check their cash flow statement every day.
Then they do something rather unusual: They let all of the company’s 88 employees look at those financial reports too, says CFO Lucas Walters. That way, when it comes to spending decisions, “everyone on the team is rowing in the same direction” — and focused on savings, he says.
John Egan, editor-in-chief of SpareFoot’s website, agrees. “Because we know the financial situation and feel like we have a stake in it, we are careful with how we spend our money,” he explains. “If I have to book a plane ticket, I’ll look for the best deal. Why wouldn’t I?”
2. Keep staffing costs as low as possible. Since labor is one of your biggest expenses, maintaining tight cost controls over your payroll will go a long way toward protecting your cash. Sure, you can always hire full-time staffers now and lay them off down the road should business slow. But that approach can get expensive, says Jaime Klein, president of Inspire Human Resources.
SpareFoot’s owners avoided this by relying when they could on temporary workers and by outsourcing early on. When the company did need to add permanent employees, it tried them out for 90 days — without benefits — before committing.
Today, as SpareFoot plans to increase its workforce to 96 by year-end, “we still evaluate every position to determine what solution makes sense, including outsourcing,” says Walters, who himself started out as an outsourced CFO for the firm before joining permanently later on.
3. Line up financing before you expand. The time to position yourself for a low-interest bank loan isn’t when you’re running out of money and struggling, says Klein of Consero Global. Obtaining credit is a lot like landing new customers. You have to invest time and effort to build a real relationship with potential lenders — and you have to cast a wide net.
SpareFoot’s owners did just that. They kept deposits in several local banks for years knowing that they’d eventually need financing for expansion. That day came in 2012, when the firm required a seven-figure loan to pay for two acquisitions (one of which it did not complete). By maintaining relationships with lenders for years, says Walters, “we got the loan on more favorable terms than we could have otherwise.”