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How To Build A Better Startup Team

Laura MacPherson June 6, 2019

You have a great idea for a new product. You have the vision and you know your industry, but you need people to help bring your vision to life. Or maybe you’re further along, working with a few others to grow your company, but you can’t get to the next level without help. It’s time to build your startup team.

But building a team can be daunting. Do you need more employees, or should you seek help from contractors or consultants? And how do you know who to partner with and who to hire?

Before you dive in and begin your search, here are a few important lessons we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) as we’ve built Designli’s team over the last five years.

Finding the Right Strategic Partners

Strategic partnerships can be an ideal way for organizations to work collaboratively. You can benefit from your partner’s unique strengths while staying focused on what you’re best at.

Here are a few tips to help you seek out and identify the right strategic partnerships for your team:

  1. Identify the gaps in your current team. What roles or skills are lacking? Pinpointing these will help you focus in on the types of skills and experience your strategic partners will need.
  2. Seek out a partner with a proven track record. Have they successfully helped to build a company or bring a product to market? If so, their experience will provide you with the right guidance and insight.
  3. Collaboration is key. Look for people who ask smart questions, offer good suggestions, and educate you. Strategic partners who have ideas to bring to the table (and aren’t just order takers) are going to be the ones who can provide more value to your team.

Finding the Right Employees

Highly-skilled people with solid experience have a lot to bring to the table. But you need more than skills and experience in an employee. There are important traits that will make the difference between a good hire and a hire that will help your company grow more effectively.

  • Cultural Fit — People who share the same values are able to quickly build rapport with their coworkers and work within the team more effectively. This isn’t to say that you want a completely homogeneous group, as diversity in both people and opinions is essential. Think diversity in perspectives but homogeneity in values.
  • Collaboration — Collaboration is just as important in an employee as it is in a strategic partner. The candidates who exhibit an ability to communicate and listen effectively, then bring smart insights to the table, will help you build a stronger company.
  • Responsiveness — Startups move at a rapid pace, and you want team members to be true action-takers who are able to respond in a timely manner when questions or challenges arise.

3 Key Traits to Build a Better Startup Team

Whether you are seeking a strategic partner or hiring employees, there are certain qualities you want to look for. In our experience we have found these are the three key traits that all great team members possess.

  1. Passion for the Product — Ideally, you need people who believe in your vision and are as passionate about transforming this vision into a reality as you are.
  2. Flexibility — The world of startups is one where things evolve and shift. Seek out people who are comfortable with change, are able to quickly adapt, and can implement new processes efficiently.
  3. Always Learning — A candidate who is curious, asks lots of questions, is willing to experiment, and can learn from their failures has the right mindset and approach needed for a startup team.

In the “move fast” startup culture, it can be tempting to choose team members quickly, without giving much thought to the essential skills and traits that will serve you best long-term. But finding the right team members can make a big impact on the success of your company, so any time you invest on the front end will pay off exponentially.

Interested in learning more about how our team at Designli can help your startup? Contact Us.

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