There are a lot of thoughtful and useful posts out there expounding the ins and outs of how to build a great team and what it takes to attract a great team. This recent post by Michael Karnjanaprakorn CEO of Skillshare is a fantastic example. There is a lot to learn and put into practice. But I’d like to take a step back, play devil’s advocate, and address why you need a great team at all.
Why is finding All-Star talent so important? Isn’t your time better spent hiring who you can and focusing instead on working hard and building your product and helping customers and becoming profitable? Isn’t the success of a startup more about the product and product market fit, than the team? Isn’t it more important to enjoy working with the people on your team?
Unconsciously it’s easy to think along these lines. Every founder would love to have an All-Star team, the All-Star team, and may even often talk about making sure that that next hire will be an All-Star. But the day-to-day reality is that customer requests, finishing that one last set of features to test product-market fit, or getting yourself out in front of angels and VCs feel like problems that needed to be addressed yesterday.
Recruitment falls by the wayside.
It’s not what you do once in a while — it’s what you do day in and day out that makes a difference
Effective recruitment needs to take a long view. Understanding why building an All-Star team needs to be a priority can help you justify spending more time on it everyday and can push you towards making it a habit.
Setting the pace
An All-Star team moves fast and sets a high pace of completing projects. Basic features do not become bottlenecks. The turnaround from idea to prototype to garbage or from idea to prototype to execution should be measured in hours or days not weeks. (Tasks should be broken up into subtasks that can be accomplished within a day.) All those problems listed above can only be truly solved when your team is able to adapt and execute rapidly. The importance of a rapid pace of progress can’t be overestimated.
Events and time compound
The more your team gets done, the more your team gets done. This has two sides to it, external and internal. An All-Star team is so productive it positions the company to be ready to take advantage of the external opportunities that inevitably come along. When you’re on your game and prepared, the universe literally seems to conspire to help you and open doors for your company.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
The flip side of this is about internal momentum and morale. Progress begets success begets progress, it tends to build upon itself almost exponentially. Momentum, within a project and across initiatives, is such a powerful force. It feeds the team and an All-Star team feeds off the success of its members. Individuals see success and subsequently are driven to raise their own game; it’s no coincidence that humbleness and striving for improvement are also traits of an All-Star team.
The longer any project/initiative takes to execute, the higher the risk you take on. There are so many risks you face as a fledgling startup. Risk of a new faster, smarter competitor, risk of existing corporation entering your space, risk of losing that one star employee, risk of running out of money, risk of losing that customer who was supposed to vouch for you to investors, risk of plummeting morale, risk of the market shifting away from your product, risk of technology changing, and on and on.
Risk is like a pack of wolves. The longer you let them linger the more likely you will be ambushed by one of them. A smart, sharp, driven, A+ team will let your company recognize and outpace the wolves. Prioritize finding a team that can respond and execute in unison and on target.