I love baseball and participate in a couple of fantasy baseball leagues every year. Having the opportunity to put myself in the General Manager’s seat and decide which player’s strengths work best together and who will bring unique talents and abilities to the team is pretty exhilarating.
I look at building your startup team in much the same light. You shouldn’t see it so much as the chance to be the guy in charge but rather as an opportunity to link together a group of individuals whose united skills can create a colossal force. Having had the chance to assemble a few business teams in my professional life, I’ve put together three of the most important points to remember.
Leave the Superhero Behind
Most of us have an image of ourselves in our minds that I refer to as our “superhero self.” It’s the way we picture ourselves in our own thoughts. It’s not necessarily that we believe we’re some mind-blowing individual that no one else is worthy of, it’s more that we think we have the hero-like abilities to do it all, take care of it all, and find the answers to everything. The truth is we don’t. We have short-comings, frailties, and weaknesses that if left unchecked, can create failures and hardships in our business lives. When it comes to building a team, leave your “superhero self” at home and be honest about who you really are. Assess your strengths and weaknesses then start searching for individuals who will help balance out your professional profile. You may be killer at business planning but your PR talents might be lacking. Look for individuals who can come in and make that aspect of your business strong.
Think Outside the Profile Box
In the corporate world, the degree you hold, the name of your university, your previous titles, and maybe even the way you dress play a huge part in deciding who gets hired. But you’re not in the corporate world. You’re a startup, an entrepreneur, a maverick. The rules don’t apply here. You’re free to look beyond a piece of paper, institution name, and previous work experience. You get to set your own standards as you interview prospects for drive, motivation, work ethic, and talent regardless of their by-the-book qualifications. You aren’t looking for some nameless person to fill an empty chair down in marketing; you’re looking for a team member, a business confederate, a partner. You get to decide exactly what that person’s qualifications should look like and exactly how they’re going to fit into your unique company ecosystem. When it comes to building your team, don’t be afraid to step outside the corporate profile box.
Make Decisions with an Eye Toward the Future
Building a startup can be an unpredictable process. The changes in direction, branding, and marketing that take place can make for a wild ride as the business settles into itself. When you’re looking to build your team, keep this fact in mind and search for individuals who are mentally and physically prepared to face the demands of the startup life. Search for those who are in it for the long-run, who can ride the ups and downs without losing motivation, and who have the financial capacity or mental determination to live lean until the paychecks start coming in. In a startup, you find out quickly who is really dedicated to the business and who was enamored by the romance of it but didn’t have the desire to hang in once the novelty wore off. Look for people who share your passion and drive and who are sincerely dedicated to being part of your team for life.
I would like to personally thank each of my team who help make Outlier the incredible machine it is today. The strengths of the individual prove mighty when combined with those of the team and that makes this team pretty unstoppable.