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The Team – Too small or To Big?

Everything starts with a small team and a joint idea. 2 – 3 People start the journey to create a vision from the idea. As a start they think about the first practical steps to make the idea real.

There will be a permanent brainstorming to bring the idea to perfection, even if they feel: it will never be perfect. Everybody is energized, and all are fully intrinsic motivated.

First Junction

At a certain point they come to conclusion, they need help. It is impossible to do it on themselves. Friends and family start to alert: do not stress yourself too much. At his point they reach the first junction. Either they continue as before, or they take more people on board. The decision comes: the team need to grow. Otherwise the mental clash comes for sure.  

Here comes next important point: new people are coming on board with different ideas and another motivation. They are excited to join in a new-idea-cosmos for relatively small salary. But first they look at the opportunity to fulfill themselves in an environment with a nearly structure-free environment.

This is a new challenge for the founders: the new team members need to be engaged, fascinated and taken on board. The fascination makes them agree to work with the conditions of a startup. It is a kind of deal: on top of the duties associated with the startup-idea they need to submerse themselves into the vibe of pioneering. There must be an advantage, that they do not start with a big organization at higher salaries, compared with the uncertain future of a startup. 

HR responsibility

The founders need to reflect within their core team and to decide about their key responsibilities. They must to redefine their duties and look at one member with the best social competencies, who can take care more focused and intense for the new team members. He needs to support their integration in the whole team. The advantage is that the new team member respectively the wider staff have one contact, who can diagnose the individual requirements.  It is important that he has good sense and reflection on the mood of the entire team. Hard feelings and mood-swings need to immediate follow up. Just to keep in mind: the new team members are the biggest investment for the startup.

It is even more important to be aware, that hard feeling and miss-behavior of individuals will have negative impact on the whole team. The mental impact of the individual is much stronger on small teams than on a big organization. The founder should play this card.

First Orga-Chart

The next and probably most important challenge is the design of a structure, where everybody finds his place. This structure shall come in place as early as possible. This make it easier to leave the everybody-does-everything-attitude as early as possible. A part of the initial pioneer-vibe will disappear with the launch of the structure. And one or the other will regret this. But on the other side the structure is a strong tool, to design opportunities for the team members. A simple but nice title can support people to look glamourous, when they can present it to family and friends. Business cards are important as well. Sometimes they look old-fashioned but they are still appreciated. 

The design of the structure has further advantages. It forces the mind, to think about the structure of the company for the next phases. Big organizations tend to present their structure on the investor relations section of the website. It is easy to look how they build the organization. There are always functions, which need to come in place anyhow at some time. Why not address them already? Add and fill them with N/A. This is a message, that the founders have this function already as a part of the strategy integrated. And it should also be part of the startup-presentation. Whenever they go to presentation of venture-capitals, customer or media – everybody realizes: they have done their job properly.     

The wider team and the structure are the first professional platform for the growth-phase. And this platform will provide the entire team a feel of stability and proper working environment.   

Human to Human

And the key question: how do we get the best people on board? Where do they come from and how do you select them? Countless books and chatrooms can help to find out. My impression is everybody is right and wrong at the same time. There is no common answer.  

There are 2 simple facts.

  1. We are looking for humans to work with humans together.
  2. The atmosphere in a startup is very much different compared to a SME or a corporation.

The working style in a small team will be more human-touch and there will be less politics than in big structures. The way of hiring people should accommodate the human-touch style. The functional skills are important but not less is the fit for the team. There is a chance (but only at the early stage) of the startup, to involve the entire team in the decision. This can help to take everybody in responsibility for any strange human situation (which will come up for sure).

Für die Bereiche Sales, Marketing und Produkt-Management haben wir exemplarisch eine Skill-Set gebildet, der für die Auswahl der richtigen Persönlichkeiten hilfreich ist. Erläuterungen stellen wir für Projekte extra zur Verfügung.

We have created a Skill-Set for the functions sales, marketing and product-management, which is helpful for identifying the right candidate. For projects we keep further supporting material available.


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