Setting up your business can be a daunting process. With so much to consider, you may feel like you just don't know where and with what to start. It can become especially difficult because the setting up phase determines the trajectory of your business. So, we've attempted to simplify this process by breaking it down into 4 key steps:
Step 1: Find Your Team Fit
This is an underrated component of setting up your business. Sometimes we can get carried away with ideas and forget that this foundational step is a key element that determines the success of your company. So, you need to find the best people you can to work with. Perhaps these are people who you've worked with in the past and who you know will have your company's best interest at the forefront of everything they do. The same applies when you are trying to find your co-founder. You need to be completely neutral and professional when it comes to deciding who you work with. Here are 5 steps to finding the right team fit:
1. Build Your Foundation First
You can't get the ‘right’ people on board if you don't have a clear set of standards and values in place that can determine what ‘right’ is for your business. Setting up your brand foundation can seem like a daunting thing to achieve so we’ve broken it down for you in our Brands Foundations guide. Once you’ve completed that, then you can begin finding the right team starting with your co-founders. Before you bring in new teammates, be clear on your leadership positions. Establish a decision-making process. Write it down in a shareholders agreement and have everyone sign it. People need to have a crystal clear understanding of their role, the expected standard and quality of their work, the chain of command and so forth.
Next, assess what you need help with and what positions you need to fill. Many startups rush this process and don't realise that full-time employees aren't the only option to leverage. Contractors are always a good option to start with as it will allow you and them to learn whether they’re a good team fit and if so you can proceed to hiring them permanently.
2. Finding Your Team Players
We all know you need some amazing players on your team. But do you know what to look for? You're not just looking for skill. Personality and attitude also matter greatly as it will determine their ability to buckle down and get the work that needs to be done completed. It will also ensure whether they work well with their teammates and align with your brand’s values.
Remember that adaptability and proficiency are important skills to have. You should look for people who are able to switch between multiple roles and get what is needed done. Expertise in one area is necessary but proficiency in several is better. Be open to people who don't want to limit their experience to one field. You also want someone who wants responsibility and wants to be accountable for their deliverables.
This should be the way you look at each of your teammates...
3. Prioritise Passion and Potential
Companies shy away from hiring based on passion, but as a startup you need a team with strong drive and passion for your brand's mission. Startup jobs are stressful and they usually offer a lower base pay than larger corporations and tend to require longer hours. You want people in your team who truly believe in your company, not those who view you as a stepping stone.
But make sure passion isn't your new hire's only selling point. Potential is hard to assess, but look for:
🔸 Recommendations from your network;
🔸 Reputable former employers on a resume;
🔸 Relevant problem-solving experiences in the interview and,
🔸 Require them to prove what they can do.
4. Don't Forget Experience
Passion and potential are great things to look for but the right team also has to have a sufficient level of experience. Looking for someone who has a startup or industry-specific experience is a good way to go. Having a team member who knows the ropes will make things easier as you go.
5. Check Your Compatibility
Listen, I'm dead serious about this! But I’m not talking about horoscopes. Check your values, goals, and personalities. Hiring is like marriage… you'll be spending a lot of time together so make sure you're right for each other.
Lastly, think about whether the rest of your team can work well with this person. Don't make a snap decision. Spend time with them, get to know them, and make sure your team has the opportunity to spend time with the candidate. They may see something positive or negative that you didn't.
You should be as compatible as fries and soft serve, just saying...
After you have found the people you think you want to work with, it is a good idea to do a test run. Work on a small project from start to finish to test whether you will work well together. This will allow you to quickly verify whether the team dynamic works well, what strategies should be implemented to ensure optimal performance, areas of improvements, and any strong suits and weaknesses.
Step 2: Test the viability of your idea
You’ve got an amazing idea for a new piece of software or service that you’re confident about developing further, but is the market really ready for your idea? Whether you’re an emerging startup or an established business, finding product-market fit is a good indicator for the success of your next venture. Once the defining the vision of all the features to your company has been documented, you can begin building the core functionality of each future. Make a plan, as simple as you can, outlining the people, process, and resources needed to achieve your idea.
This is a plan that Hotjar used when making their plan:
Their aim was to make sure this is achieved at a high scale and a cost that supports free or very low pricing with the vision to change the way their web platform is built and improved by democratising user analytics and feedback.
Step 3: Design your MVP
An MVP (minimal viable product) is the minimal form of your product that is tested on the market. This development strategy allows your team to validate (or invalidate) product assumptions and learn how your target users react and experience your product’s core functionality. This approach will provide insight into properly allocating your budget to satisfy your overall business objectives. Building an MVP is an iterative process designed to identify user pain points and determine the appropriate product functionality to address those needs over time.
Knowing your idea is viable, clearly define the minimum requirements for each feature. All you need to do is put together a document which details what each feature would do and the acceptance test each feature would have to pass to be launched. Review this document on multiple occasions, each time thinking about how to simplify the functionality further. Once this process has been completed, set high level estimates of how long it would take to test and build an entire MVP.
The main goal of an MVP is to develop a working product that provides immediate value, quickly, while minimising costs. Starting with an MVP will allow you to learn more about your end-user and the market you wish to enter as you test your assumptions. An MVP will also set the stage for future iterations of development and clarify the sequential steps to take in the project – whether that’s changing directions entirely, or continuing down your set development path. In some instances, an MVP can also be used to showcase business potential and win stakeholder buy-in. Whether you’re looking for support from internal or external investors, an MVP definitely strengthens your position, as it proves the merit of your product and secure funding for future development.
How you should react to your MVP once it's completed....
Step 4: Set up the basic tools and processes needed
Determine all the tools you will need to achieve what you need to post MVP. This also includes setting up your company as a legal entity with a company name and domain. Use project management tools to translate your MVP documents into separate units of work and prioritise each unit. Break each unit into weekly sprints and at the beginning of each week prioritise and estimate what you want to achieve by the end of the week. Start new weekly sprints at the beginning of each week. As soon as anything is completed, launch. This allows you to be fast and responsive to the changes which need to be made or issues which need to be fixed.
Hot Tip: It’s easy to lose focus and waste time by working on this step too early. To ensure all your time and financial resources are allocated most suitably, make sure you don't work on this too early in the process. You should really only think about it once you have your foundation plan in place.
So, you have:
🔸 Found your team;
🔸 Tested the viability of your idea;
🔸 Designed and launched your MVP and,
🔸 Set yourself up with all the tools and processes you need.
Now, you are in a place where you can, with the support of your team and data, determine the pathway your business takes. You will have much stronger reasons to base your decisions off of and knowledge to implement for the growth and success of your business. But remember, these are not 'do one time and forget about it' things. You have to constantly nurture each facet and ensure that it is functioning optimally. The market is not stopping. You should aim to not only keep up, but to beat the game.