With start-ups you have to accept this – shit happens. It doesn’t just happen occasionally but ALL the time. That’s why you need a good team – to handle the adversity!
Important questions about the start-up team and advisors
• How do you find the right team to launch your company?
• How do you identify the right set of advisors?
• How do you manage your advisors?
• What are responsibilities and compensation for advisors?
• How do you identify the right roles to help you launch a product or offering?
• Do you expect the roles to change over time?
• How can you recruit people to fill roles when you have limited resources?
• What metrics do you track when recruiting? Do you need a cofounder?
• What are some common pitfalls with cofounder?
• Is a team necessary to launch a company?
Our amazing mentors
• Kristjan Lepik, previously Head of Brokerage unit of Lõhmus Haavel & Viisemann, TI EfTEN Head of Asset management, currently owner of tarkinvestor.ee and head of Smart Specialisation at the Estonian Development Fund.
• Calum Cameron, previously Senior Hosting Systems Analyst and Architect at Fujitsu services, Head of PMO & IT Operations at MYJAR, currently Managing Director at Startup Wise Guys, founder of Trusting Systems.
• Eero Tohver, previously IT specialist at Eesti Energia, project manager at SEB Ühispank, currently Chairman of the board at Connect Estonia, visiting lecturer at Tallinn University of Technology, CEO of Uptime OÜ.
• Riina Einberg, previously senior project manager at MicroLink Systems AS, HR manager at Skype, COO & Member of Management Board at GuardTime, currently the Director of Operations at Monese.
Pointers from our top guys regarding start-up teams and advisors
• If you already have a team that executes then you have the right team. You cannot outsource team roles. You need to have a team with you and active!
• Stay small for as long as you can. The larger your team is the harder it is to change direction quickly when needed. Also with a big team you might run out of money very quickly.
• So, who are the right people? When in a hurry you need to pick the people you already know because you don’t have the time to build a new relationship. Ideally they also have the skills and tools needed for the job but attitude is at least as important as skills. Usually people get fired for the attitude, not for the skills.
• You need to hire people who are smarter than you, otherwise you will kill you company.
• What makes the team fall apart? Difference in commitment. You have to define who are your co-founders, who are the people who you cannot move on without. You have to have consensus with them. Maybe in some areas you can decide who is running what, but you have to make important decisions (e.g. who are your team members) together.
• You need to fight those fights with your co-founders! But the fights have to have quality, you cannot just get emotional!
• You need to have different people in your team. Different people have different ideas and they add to each other’s value. So you need to see what your missing today.
• Sometimes start-ups fail because founders don’t know how to let go. You need to have different people in different phases. If your company grows, will the people who started it know how to run it when it has 40 or 100 employees.
• All the books you read about start-ups are great but you must keep in mind the context where it is written. Every country has a different location and situation.
• When you are hiring a new teammate, consider the context the person coming from. Always ask what was the exact responsibility in their previous job, don’t assume the title says everything.
• ‘Delivery’ is the magic word in start-ups. When defining you goals, try to express them in deliverables then people know what to expect. You can also go back and see if people actually delivered.
• When managing your team, don’t skip one-on-ones.
• People joining your team should be brave, smart and have a positive attitude. You don’t have time to hold somebody’s hand all the time.
• When looking for advisors, be sure they actually know their stuff. Ask about their experience in specific situations that you are interested in.
• How much should you compensate? Successful people have a history of people helping them and they will do it for free because they were helped. But it is always good to ask how I can compensate you for your advice.
• Make it easy for your advisors. Be active. Be clear on what you wish for. Keep them involved by telling them how you are doing.
• Good advisors don’t have a lot of time. If they do then that raises a question why?