Startups are an exciting place to be right now. They are full of ideas, passion, and a race to become the next Unicorn. Everyone wants to work for the next Uber or Snapchat, but their meteoric rise to prominence was the result of a complex series of steps, setbacks, challenges, and of course people.
What may entrepreneur’s fail to realize, is that now is the best time to get a winning formula. If you have a small team, responsibilities may tend to be ad-hoc. One of you will have a knack for chasing down clients, while another may prefer managing employees on a day-to-day basis. None of this is bad – if you agree on the roles each person should be doing, that is!
How do you share responsibilities without treading on the toes (and delicate egos) of your partners? We have a few handy tips.
Know Your Skillsets, Objectively
Entrepreneurs and founders are typically good at a few things. They can get by in most scenarios, which is why they are great for getting an idea from paper to production. However, as your company grows, you need to be objective about your own skills. It’s not as simple as writing down what you are good at – have your team do this for you. It could be that they see you as effective in an entirely different area.
A great tool for this (though slightly cliché) is Myers-Briggs type personality tests. They give a business-friendly view on personality types, and where the team would fit best in your startup.
Don’t Take It Personally!
If your co-founders or colleagues don’t agree on your assessment of their skills, it’s easy to say that’s ‘Just Business’. If they say the same about you… well it’s hard not to take that criticism personally. Truly successful businesses rely on management seeing the bigger picture, and moving the idea forward.
Remember that your team want to succeed as much as you do – and only a team effort will get you there.
I know that you may not need an entire C-Suite management team from day one, but formalizing roles based on skillsets gives your team legitimacy. You know the fundamental areas of your business and what skills they require, so once you have a list of everybody’s strengths, formalize what they do.
…But Don’t Become Too Stale
Of course, don’t formalize roles to the detriment of your startup. Things change. Business evolves. The great thing about a startup is that it’s flexible enough to change with the market, and so should your roles. Tim may have been a great salesman when you had smaller clients, but dealing with corporations takes an entirely different mindset (think purchase orders, tenders, procurement contracts, I could go on…). Don’t be afraid to shuffle up the deck, bring in new skills, and evolve your team over time.
This may be the hardest thing to do in a smaller startup. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs rely on gut and emotion when forming a team. Friends are brought in, are given a role, and then silo mentality can take a hold. You trust your friend. If you are divvying up roles based on skillsets, then you should hold those same skills accountable for the results they bring.
Have regular, formal meetings, and discuss objectives. Track progress. Assess whether something is succeeding or failing. If something isn’t going so great? Discuss why, and then take action.