Bryce Welker is an entrepreneur, web developer and internet marketer. He is the CEO of two companies in the digital marketing space and owns a portfolio of more than 20 websites including CrushReviews.com and CrushOffers.com.
Earlier this year, I began building a team to be the core of my newest business venture. While I had a good idea of who I was looking for from the start, it was a valuable learning experience. With the process still fresh in my memory, I decided it would be a good idea to write down some of what I learned and share it with other entrepreneurs who are looking to build their own startup team:
Look for the "Swiss Army knives."
Let's start with the basics. Obviously, when you hire anyone, you're looking for them to fill a role, or more specifically, to bring a skillset to the team that's currently missing. But the trick is finding people who can handle more than one role.
Start with the technical specialists: those members of the team who need to be absolute experts in their given role. Once you've identified those people, surround them with generalists.
Find a lead salesperson who also has marketing experience, or a web developer who can also handle graphic design. Hiring a complete team of people on a startup budget is infeasible, but bringing on generalists at the beginning will ensure that every aspect of your business is properly attended to.
As an added bonus, those individuals will know exactly what to look for in the future when hiring someone to fill one of their roles.
Find passionate individuals.
The next thing you should look for when building your team is arguably the most important: passion. While money in the bank is the main driving force behind the creation of any business, if it's the only thing that inspires your business, you're almost destined for failure.
People don't buy products; they buy solutions. In much the same way, your team doesn't buy into your company: they buy into what it provides. If the only thing your business is providing to a new team member is a paycheck, you can expect them to jump ship at the first sight of disaster -- or a larger paycheck.
It's integral that a startup's initial team be comprised of people who are passionate about the idea or solution being offered. If people believe in your vision and want to be a part of it, that passion will help them overcome the stressful situations and problems that are guaranteed to rise during a business' formative years.
Plan for disaster and embrace failure.
Now that we're talking about the inevitable struggles startup teams face, remember to plan for the worst possible outcome and make sure your team is prepared. Let's face it, the way a person acts and the decisions they make while things are going well can often be worlds apart from the actions and decisions that same person makes while stressed.
Do your best to find out how a person will "weather the storm." This is where it pays off to reach out to people who have worked with your potential candidate before. Spend some time with their previous employers (or teachers, if they're a student) and ask them, "How well does this person perform under pressure?"
I look for someone who has tried -- and failed -- in their given role. This may sound counterproductive, and you're probably thinking, "Why would I want a proven failure?" But the truth is, a person who has tried, failed, picked themselves up and tried again has a proven track record of prevailing. They may have made mistakes (like we all do) but it shows they are willing and able to keep on going when times get tough.
On the other hand, an individual whose entire career has seen nothing but success may crumble in the wake of failure, and not possess enough due diligence to really see things through.
Jon Elvekrog, CEO and co-founder of 140 Proof, said, "Startup culture today almost fetishizes inexperience." He was right. Many startup founders (possibly most) learn the skills they need "on the go."
It pays to have people on your team who have "been there and done that." The ability to notice subtle issues in operating procedures, and find and address problems from warning signs (instead of full-fledged disasters) isn't something that's taught. Rather, it comes from years of experience in a specific niche.
Even if you have an entire team of trusted, smart, and driven but inexperienced individuals whom you feel will get the job done, you will benefit from hiring someone with experience in your industry.
Hire people you like, not people like you.
That may seem like counterintuitive, but it's an extremely important component of building a well-rounded team, and one that many entrepreneurs neglect.
While it's true that your team needs to like one another and be both socially and professionally compatible to succeed, that doesn't mean they all need to be the same. In today's increasingly diverse society, it's of the utmost importance that your company possesses a realistic world view.
Building a team that comes from different upbringings, social standings, religions and cultures will ensure that the business doesn't get tunnel vision and can still appeal to a broader target audience.
There's a multitude of ideas to consider when building your team, and far more information than can be discussed in a single article. But if you keep the five basic suggestions above in mind, you should be able to create the world-class team you had always dreamed of, and on a budget you can afford in your startup's early days.