How to Build a Winning Core Startup Team

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Trying to build a team for your startup can be a difficult task. Get some tips from a career development specialist on how to build a successful team. By Jasmine France (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Success begins with a great idea, but you need to build a winning team in order to make that idea a reality, and that’s no small feat.

Hiring a core team requires making a solid recruiting plan. Recruiting strategy will vary depending on the goals of the leader and the skills and experience of the hiring manager, but there is some general advice that applies to almost every tech company.

I talked with Wendy Saccuzzo, Career Development Specialist and Community Manager at Riviera Partners, to get her thoughts on how to build a successful team.

Start with Great Engineers

“Since most new companies are tech-focused to start with these days, engineering is usually the first need,” says Wendy. “Building an engineering team will stabilize a company’s presence and build traction.”

Other hires are generally a secondary priority, but it’s important to note that as the team grows, having an efficient and successful onboarding process for new hires is one of the most conducive ways to ensure positive culture and integration in the company.

So while human resources is often considered non-essential until the company is more established, having someone on the core team who has HR experience can help take the company to the next level.

Look for Can-Do Attitudes

“Key hires for a core team in a tech company should be people who are ready to hit the ground running for whatever their role is,” says Wendy. “They must be motivated, focused, and willing to put in the hours to help get the company off the ground.”

In addition, individuals on small teams should be able to wear many hats. They should be willing to get their hands dirty in other areas of the company, not just what they were hired for.

Use Networks to the Fullest Advantage

“As a company builds their team, each new member should have a well-written, interesting and accurate description of their new role on their LinkedIn profile,” says Wendy. “The description should include an indication that the company is hiring, along with a link to the Company Page on LinkedIn.”

This essentially leads to free press, since the new hire’s network will see the new role in their feed and may be compelled to check out the company. Also, don’t forget about Twitter. You can use your handle to provide an insider’s view into the company (in the form of employee quotes, for example), which will give followers an idea of what it’s like to work for the company and possibly build interest in available positions.

Think of Culture and Diversity Early On

Remember that culture is established early on, and having personalities that mesh well will lead to a good company culture and all around success. Just make sure the skills and experience are there as well. Also, starting with diversity will lead to a natural progression toward having a diverse team.

“If the first hires include women and minorities,” says Wendy. “Growth will follow that trend.” In other words, if you have a diverse core team, you’ll end up with a diverse referrals list.

Be Forward Thinking

When you’re thinking about filling positions, consider two to three years into the future. A company may know they need eight people by the end of the year, but what about next year? It matters to figure that out. You want to think holistically, because that will allow you to piece together a team on not only technical characteristics but team dynamics.

Learn more about how to build a winning team at our upcoming “How To” Conference.


About the guest blogger: Jasmine France is a travel-addicted, food-obsessed Bay Area writer with a decade of experience covering consumer electronics, digital music, mobile apps and cloud computing. Follow her on Twitter @WeirdEaredJas.