Running a startup can be challenging and for many founders, it is a process of trial and error, but the truth is that you need a team to be a successful founder. As such, one of your most important roles as a founder, besides raising money, is helping your team grow.
This might come as a surprise as most startups begin as a tight-knit group, usually one or two co-founders. However, as you grow from a great idea to the MVP to your beta, your team will grow.
Along the way, you will bring on people and let some people go. But if your company is going to be a success, you will need a strong team. With that in mind, here are some ideas on how founders can help their teams grow.
Match Skills and Teamwork
One key to success is finding the right people for the right job. This includes finding people who will buy into the type of team you are trying to build.
In doing so, you set yourself up for success as everyone will be pulling in the same direction, rather than pulling apart.
Beyond this, you want to make sure your team can complement each other. This is important, especially in the early days, where you need to ensure that your team has the bases covered.
Make the Most with What You Have
Startup team members need to wear a lot of hats. Even if you are well funded, you are always trying to make the most with what you have.
As such, you want a team that is flexible enough to take on different projects when needed. In this way, you can focus on growing while keeping costs under control.
When you are just starting, your primary focus will be on building the product, but you might not afford to hire a complete team.
Sure, you can give equity to early team members, but this will only get you so far. But this can come back to haunt you, significantly as team members get diluted in later rounds of funding.
Instead, help your team to grow but putting them in positions to be successful.
This might include assigning projects which will challenge them or giving them an opportunity for personal development such as the Thomas Kilmann instrument as this sort of “soft skill” development will help them to better lead teams in the future.
Learn from Your Mistakes
One thing that many founders fail to do is to learn from their mistakes. When it comes to helping a team grow, this means understanding what it takes to hire the right people and how to motivate individuals to work together as a unit.
While you will need to be scrappy in the beginning, over time, you will have to refine your approach.
This will require you to grow as your company grows, and in some cases, it might even mean that you will have to recognize that your skills are better suited for the technical aspects of your company rather than executive management.
You can still be the founder, but there are times when having a professional leader at the head of your team will make all the difference in the world.
Learning from your mistakes does not mean that you always need to be the leader. There are times when letting go might be the right move.
Get the Best Bang for Your Buck
When hiring, you want to start by filling high-impact positions first. In this way, you can build a team that will meet your most immediate needs.
From there, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that team members can grow into new roles, and the company matures, or you might need to bring on more people.
Either focus on getting a bang for your buck as this will position the company, and your team, to grow in the future.
Embrace Being a Leader
Sure, when you first start, the culture is going to be less structured. But as your startup begins to gain traction, you will need to pivot from being the lead coder or salesperson to a leader.
This is important as you will not only need to set the strategic direction for your company. You will need to give your team the tools they need to make it happen.
While this can be a daunting task for some, you need to embrace being a leader. Doing so will give you the motivation needed to inspire those around you to reach higher.