A Look at the Challenges of Building a Startup Team

Like a good recipe, there are many ingredients that must go into a business to put it on a path toward success. From innovative products and services, to financing, to effective leadership, each element plays its own part in the development of every thriving startup.

Unfortunately, the prognosis for most startups isn’t very encouraging. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of new businesses will fail within five years. In assessing the “post-mortems” of startups that have failed, CB Insights found that one of the main reasons why these businesses close their doors is that they did not have the right team. Of the 101 startups interviewed, 23 percent of respondents identified this as one of their biggest problems.

Your team will be instrumental to the success of your startup, acting as the primary force behind its growth and progress. Whether you’re getting ready to establish your first startup or you’re a serial entrepreneur, building the right team for the job at hand can be a surprisingly difficult task.

Here are some of the biggest challenges that you can face when building your startup team and how to overcome them:




Making sure you have all the players you need

Most startups begin with relatively small teams, but you should be sure to fill the most essential roles as quickly as possible. Without these team members in place, your business could stall coming right out of the blocks.

Every great startup must begin with a visionary. Whether this is you or a co-founder, this person is responsible for generating the initial concepts for the entire business. Your visionary should not only imagine your products or services on the global scale, but he or she must be able to connect the remainder of your team to the significance of your concept. This person will help to keep everyone in line with your startup’s vision while focusing on the logistics of bringing your concept to life.

Your startup must also have someone at the helm of operations. Typically, co-founders fill this position, but you can look elsewhere for the expertise needed in this role. Primarily, this person will be the one to pitch your startup to outside entities, run day-to-day strategy, and navigate the business toward its target.

In the beginning, you’ll also need someone who specializes in technology. This individual will head up product development and determine what needs to be done to get your product to its end goal.


Not finding the right candidates for the job

You may have a list of roles that you need to fill at your startup, but it can be challenging to find candidates who are skilled enough to take on each job. Looking for talent in your local area is the best jumping off point when beginning the hiring process. However, you may find that there aren’t enough qualified individuals in your city. What’s more, you won’t encounter many professionals who will want to relocate their families to work at a new startup. In another blow to your hiring prospects, bigger companies typically onboard the most talented candidates before startups have the chance.

As challenging as it can be to find the best candidates for your startup team, there are a few ways that you can fill some of your most important roles early on. When looking for developers, for example, you may need to cast a wide net and hire professionals from outside of the country. You shouldn’t fill every open position with candidates from abroad, but diversifying your talent pool will allow you to build a strong team.

In a similar vein, you should also consider hiring freelancers to work at your startup. From market research, to website building, to advertising, you can find a freelancer to accomplish nearly any task.


board room


Managing a dispersed team

Telecommuting has become a crucial aspect of running a startup. Whether your team is spread across several continents or you simply don’t have a central office, you will need to know how to manage a team of remote workers.

Communication (or lack thereof) is one of the biggest challenges of leading a dispersed startup team. Since your team can’t meet in person, you must maintain open lines of communication to collaborate on projects and drive your startup forward. Moreover, communication is vital to maintaining team morale when your employees are all in separate locations. With the Internet, you can leverage countless tools to ensure that your team is interacting even from across the globe. Ensure that these lines of communication always remain open. Remote workers should be just as available as those working in-house.


Growing your team

Eventually, your startup may be in a position to begin expanding its workforce. While this bodes well for your growing business, it can also be a tricky process to manage. How do you know exactly when to onboard new employees? You shouldn’t hire staff before you need them, because they will affect your bottom line, but you shouldn’t wait too long because your team could buckle under growing workloads.

It’s important to base your decision to grow your team on these two factors, but make sure to leave yourself enough time to find the right person for the job before your existing staff becomes too overwhelmed. Plan for team growth at least a few months ahead of when you estimate you’ll need the extra pair(s) of hands.