Building the Right Team


Achieving success as a start-up is never easy. Over 50% of startups fail, for a long list of reasons. But at the core of every successful start-up you will find one uniting factor: great people. Hiring the right employees does not only help mitigate the risk of having to replace them down the road. It fosters a culture of high-level thinking and productivity and serves as the cornerstone of a strong office environment. Here are several tips that I gathered from Michael Fertlik and others on how to go about hiring the right people as a startup:

Choose the Right Co-Founder

At some point, you’ll have to hire your first employee who will likely assume the role of co-founder for your startup. When selecting a co-founder, choose someone who complements your skills rather than someone who is quite similar to yourself. This means that you do not necessarily want to found a business with your best friend from business school just because you enjoy each other’s company. The best fit candidate will be able to carry the team in the area that you are weakest: whether that is a social guy to complement your tech skills or a tech guy to complement your social skills, that’s the kind of business relationship that works best.

Hire People Who Are Smarter Than You

Your company depends on the work of its people, and one way to help ensure excellent performance is to hire smart people who will carry a high level of energy and motivation with them to the office. There are no rules in business that require the business owner to be the smartest man in the company. In fact, you can really benefit as an entrepreneur from hiring an employee who understands all highly technical aspects of the business. Great minds tend to critique each other, so don’t let your ego get in the way of maintaining a solid business relationship with your smartest employees.

Only Hire the People You Need

It can be easy to get carried away with hiring when your business turns profitable. It’s important to make sure that you only hire employees who are serving a vital role to your business. At the start-up phase of your business, you may not need a full time graphic designer on staff, and you certainly don’t need a secretary to fill your coffee pot in the morning. If you’re not sure whether or not you will need a particular employee long term or you don’t have enough work to offer full-time employment, consider hiring a freelancer or independent contractor who you can hire for several months or years at a time to work part-time.

Don’t Think Too Big

It can be very tempting to scale production at the outset before your business has sold its entire inventory. In general, you want to keep your business small until you starting receiving calls for orders that you simply do not have the capacity to produce. Many start-ups don’t even require an office space to exist outside of the business owner’s home, and that’s a great way to ensure that you don’t expand too quickly. It’s always better to hire employees because your too small than let go of employees because your too big.

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Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes is the Director of Business Development at Tarkenton Companies. Chris has an extensive sales and marketing background, including being part of the product launch for Propel Fitness Water for Gatorade, a promotions and marketing specialist for 94 WYSP in Philadelphia, and part of the Fran Tarkenton Show on SiriusXM. Chris is actively involved in the insurance marketing world, where he recruits for and works with Tarkenton Financial, a nation-wide group of financial agents.