Starting a Startup is not a one-man job, it is not for the people who just have an idea and think that they have the skill set to start something. It needs more than that.
Planning is important, the structure is also important.
In my opinion, you should start with your team, and then move to the next step of planning.
Starting a startup alone
When you are going solo and you are exploring your idea, you should be very clear about what you want to do.
You need to make sure that you have a goal and strategies for achieving it. You need to be able to motivate yourself if things are not going your way.
If you don’t have a clear plan where do you want your startup to be in one year or two years' time, then why would anyone else?
If no one else believes in your idea then why would you believe in it?
Having a clear strategy will help motivate yourself as well as other people who want to join your team when they see that there is progress being made.
If there is no progress then it will not attract anyone new on board, and without new members on board who will get excited about the progress of the project?
No one but yourself! So having a clear strategy is very important.
There should also be someone who can help you to achieve what you want to in a time-bound manner.
Because when you are all by yourself and it is just you and your idea, there will be some time when things will get tough.
You need to be able to keep motivating yourself even when no one else does, that is where the vision comes in.
So you need to have a goal that will keep you motivated, and a structure that will help you achieve that goal.
Building the team
When I started working on my startup idea, I was not sure whether it would work out or fail but I knew I had something unique about the idea so people would like it once they know about it.
So my plan was “I’ll just start with one person, see how that works out then I can take it from there”.
So at first, I started working with one person who had always been there for me since my college days and I knew he could do something great with me.
But later on, he left the company because of some personal reasons (We are still really good friends) then I started hiring as many interns as possible because if they can do it, so can others and I could see the potential in them.
But I knew that they were not ready for something bigger like a startup because they did not have the necessary experience.
This is your core team who is going to make sure that you can deliver what you promised and also help you build the product.
People with good technical expertise are very valuable.
You need to find someone who has done something similar to what you want to do next and knows all the technical aspects of it.
You should be able to count on them whenever you need them, because your success depends on their technical expertise, if your team does not have enough technical expertise then it’s going to be difficult for them to deliver what’s needed or get things done in time.
Even if they can do it then it might take a long time which could affect the progress of your startup in a negative way.
So you need to find someone who has done something similar, at least try to know as much as possible about his previous experiences so you can understand how he thinks about certain things and why he does certain things which will help you understand his thoughts and make better decisions when you are working with him.
The second component is not so much about who they are but rather what they do, and that’s their job description.
You need to make sure that the people you hire are aware of their job description, it is very important because when you are looking for someone to join your team and you don’t have a clear idea of what type of work needs to be done then how will these people know what exactly they need to deliver?
So you need to make sure that whoever you hire is aware of the tasks which need to be done in order to execute your vision.
And this part becomes even more important when you have a small team because there will be less communication and fewer people who can do different things.
So having a clear job description is very important and should not be overlooked, there should be someone else in the team who can help in this regard.
The third component is personal skills. This goes hand in hand with the first one.
For example, if you want someone who has technical expertise so he can build something for your company, but he doesn’t have good communication skills then it will become difficult for him to talk things out with the rest of the team.
So you need to have the right mix of both technical expertise and personal skills.
When I was looking for someone to join my team I was looking for people who were very good at what they do, with good technical expertise as well as communication skills.
And when I finally found them, I knew that it’s going to work out well. But the problem was where do I get such people?
Well, there are many places but you have to make sure that you can trust them and they can deliver what they promised.
Hiring is a very critical part of any startup, especially when it is just you and your idea because if you hire wrong people then there isn’t much left to do in terms of trying to find the right one because the team which you have is more or less your team for a long time (depending on how much money you have).
So make sure you hire right the first time!
You need to be very clear about who you want to be a part of your team, and what each person will be doing so that if someone joins your team then everyone knows about his job description and can help him in doing his job from day 1.
When you are hiring someone you should have a clear idea of what you want that person to do, how the rest of the team should interact with him, and what kind of personal skills he should have.
So it is important to have a clear job description for each person so that when they join the team they know exactly what kind of work needs to be done and how they can execute it.
Don’t just ask people “what can you do?”, instead tell them “this is what we are doing, this is where we are going with our startup, this is our vision and this is where I see us in 1 year or 2 years time”.
Then ask them if they like your vision/vision statement and how they think they can contribute to making your vision come true.
See if they can communicate with other people in your startup and help them in whatever way possible.
So basically try to understand their personality and how well they fit into your team instead of asking them general questions like “tell me about yourself” because that doesn’t tell you much about what kind of a person he/she really is.
If you don’t know much about that person then talk to someone who has worked with him/her before and ask them about his personal skills.
When you are talking to a person make sure you don’t talk about something else, you should be talking about work.
And when you are talking to someone who is working with the same company right now then ask him/her how things are going there.
See if there is any way you can use that person in your startup and if not, then ask him/her to refer someone who can help your startup.
If he/she doesn’t have anyone in mind then see if he/she will be willing to give you candid feedback on what kind of people they think would fit into your team.
Also, try to understand their personality because it might be difficult for them to talk to some people directly and they might be thinking of something else, so sometimes it is better to get indirect feedback from them instead of asking them directly which will work much better as well as save time because in most cases people just want to hear things which they want to hear or things which they can relate with.
So try different ways of getting candid feedback from someone and see which works best for you in different situations.
The important thing is that when you are talking to someone, you should understand his personality and see if he fits into your team or not.
And if he doesn’t fit then try to find someone who will because it is going to be a lot of work in the future for you if you don’t have the right people on board.
So in short, when you are hiring someone make sure that you tell them what kind of work needs to be done and how they can execute it, and also have a general idea about their personal skills and see if they fit into your company.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.