I sat in on a lunch meeting a month ago for an up-and-coming startup. They considered hiring me to help with editorial content. Upon leaving the meeting, one of the members of the five-person team said to me, “You don’t need to put too much thought into this.” And that’s when I knew I didn’t want to be on the team.
Don’t hire people for the sake of hiring people. You need a developer? Fine. Wait for one you can trust. You need someone to do your PR? Don’t pick up the first specialist you run into.
If you get into a project, take it on whole-heartedly. After all, no one believes in your startup as much as you do. Especially if you’re leading a team, if you’re not passionate, how can you expect your employees to be?
I wanted to be on a team that was aggressive and inspired. I wanted to be on a team that needed me as much as I needed them. I wanted to make a real difference, in real time.
It’s understandable that many startup entrepreneurs are doing many things at once. But what’s the point of taking on a project if you can’t take it on fully? What’s the point of dragging it out over time, knowing full well that someone else can get to your idea before you do? After all, it’s not who had the idea—it’s who made the product.
Especially if you’re one of those people juggling startups, surround yourself with a team that commands real results, in real time.
Find the right team—then inspire them.
In an interview with the WeDeliver team (who won the Chicago Startup Weekend in 2012), Daniela Bolzmann, WeDeliver Product Marketing Manager, told me the reason she joined the team was because of the founder, Jimmy Odom. She left her own startup idea to jump onto his team. In this situation, it was the right place at the right time.
The WeDeliver team is a great example of finding a team that can sync together. Each person on the team is there because they believe in what they do. It’s important that your team beats with the same heart. Think back to the basics of how your high-school sports team worked: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”
A big misconception in the startup world, especially with tech startups, is that product is everything. The focus is too often placed on technology, apps, and product development. But remember: It’s the person behind the curtain, running the engine, who can bring a project to fruition.
And I’ve heard over and over: A key to successful entrepreneurship is inspiration.
So find the right team, and inspire them.
But don’t just inspire them, let them inspire you.
Finding the right person doesn’t mean finding someone that thinks the exact same way you do. In fact, it might mean finding someone who can fight you, and challenge you to see things differently.
There was another team I wanted to work with because I believed in their startup idea. As a networking platform, they not only brought together professionals of all ages (helping people find the fit they needed), but they also donated a portion of their revenue to a charitable cause. I believed in what they did.
The problem? The owner and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.
However, this ended up being the same reason I suspected we’d work well together. He frustrated me on most accounts, but he also helped me see when I wasn’t thinking broadly enough.
Even in the case of WeDeliver, Bolzmann has said the times they “go at each other” are some of the most rewarding moments.
Assess your needs, and see who can fill in the holes. The beauty of today’s job market is that we are all forced to wear many hats. See who can wear the hats that your company needs most.
Part of this comes from knowing who you are, and knowing what your product is so well that you will not compromise or be swayed. Why should you? Your product is your baby. Do not settle. There are too many talented people in this world to take on just anyone.
Think about how many people are in your network–and utilize them well. Whether it’s friends from college or folks you met at a startup pitch, find the people that can be just as passionate about your project as you are.
And remember: All things come to those who wait. Search for the shoe that fits, because your product can either slump around on broken heels, or stand out like a rockstar.