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11 tips to build a great start-up team

Last updated on: July 18, 2012 07:56 IST

11 tips to build a great start-up team

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Courtesy YourStory.in
Shradha Sharma, founder and chief editor of YourStory.in feels that building a start-up team is equal to reaching nirvana.

Yes, I have built a team that I am very proud of, so I thought I could share my learnings with fellow entrepreneurs on how to go about building it.

Keep in mind that anyone who has a funda on building the right startup team and can give you the exact mantra is quite honestly "BS"ing with you.

All of us have to learn it on the way, our own way of building, retaining and growing a good team.

A little background on my mindset (you got to know the founder to understand the team they are trying to build).

First, I am clearly a sucker for hanging around with good people, so much so that in my family everyone knows that I cannot be alone and be happy at the same time, so it's alone = unhappy.

Second, I have this unending yearning in life for friends (yeah, it hasn't left me though my teenage has left me some time back).

Third, I have had a glorious corporate life before YourStory and haven't forgotten some of the glorious reasons for leaving it.

So here is what I have learnt in my journey so far.

Courtesy: YourStory.in

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Photographs: Courtesy YourStory.in

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1. I search 24 x 7 for good people

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I hire people for one and only one thing -- Attitude (as a close entrepreneur friend says -- skill can be taught).

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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2. Love rules the start-up world

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I love everyone in my team as I would love myself (or just nearly as much) and here, one can again not BS and get away.

Everyone is smart today.

They know it if you love them as equals or if you are just saying it for the heck of it.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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3. It has to be more than your own face

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I enjoy the process of making people in my team the face of my organisation.

I believe, if their profile grows, automatically, the organisation will grow and invariably, I will grow (some of you reading this will already know who my stars are).

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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4. Don't grudge, don't judge

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I have made loads of mistakes while hiring under desperation, but I have never held a grudge against myself (for constantly getting desperate in hiring or towards the ones who joined easily and left as easily).

But, I believe that all those who left, taught me something invaluable and made my team and me much better people.

Also, the no grudge policy has led to some people coming back again and some working as freelancers post their full time stint.

Honestly, this is the secret weapon to building a good team: never underestimate or overestimate anyone.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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5. Transparency

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Everyone in my team knows what we are building clearly, what we are not, what we are doing, what's the plan, strategy, how much money we are making (or rather not making).

It's not a one-way process, but an equal and often team-driven decision (I do like to believe -- I get the final say).

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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6. Go and make your mistakes

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Yes, like all the start-ups, we make crazy amount of mistakes.

We fall, we delay, but the point is, we are constantly pushing ourselves to be better.

We believe the competition is / and will be with our own selves: how best can we be?

(Trust me, this keeps the brightest in my team very busy)

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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7. Don't build a superstar team but a super solid organisation

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From day one, my kick in life was to build an organisation and not an individual name or brand.

Everyone in the team buys that and so each one of us is driven towards making it happen.

Yes, superstars will always be there, but do you build a blockbuster movie together or do a solo performance? A question which we keep asking ourselves.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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8. Same kind of people, so we have the same story

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Everyone in the team lives the stories we tell.

We all get excited talking to entrepreneurs and doing something everyday which creates impact.

It's infectious, we all get charged up by the same things and equally discharged by some other things!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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9. Take criticisms

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The best way I have figured out to build a team is to show everyone in the team that as the head of the organisation, you are brilliant in taking criticisms.

It motivates young people within the team to be leaders and express themselves (isn't the whole adoption of social networks like Twitter and FB affirming the fact that young people want to express and be heard and participate).

Why not begin it within your team?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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10. A good team attracts good talent

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Once you have smart people in the team, they will naturally pull smart people around them.

I have seen that happening in my team.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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11. Money is everything but still NOT the most important thing

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Anyone who does not like money and is working in a start-up, I would say, is in for a tough run.

Yes, money is important to live, to do things you want to do, so my bet has been on getting people who value money but who value more "a purpose to life".

Last, but not the least, it's not easy.

Who says building a good team is easy? It is difficult but again this theory holds true -- if you really want to build a good team, trust me, you will go on to make it.

Do you just say you want to build a team? Ask yourselves, are you sure you can deal with much smarter people working under you? Are you sure, you are okay with the limelight being shared or sometimes taken away from you?

As entrepreneurs, let's admit, we are a bit narcissistic people. We have worked so hard and suddenly, the new ambitious lot comes and shares the glory or at least, takes a part of it. Are we ready for it?

Again, it has no clear answer, requires deep soul searching and at some time, a sense of security with your own self.

I would like to thank everyone who has been in my team and who has left. I couldn't have been writing all this had it not been for you, wonderful people!

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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