BlogTo Build or Not to Build a Team

Through this blog, we analyze how pivotal team building is.

Here’s what we are all trying to do: We are all striving to become better every single day. Are we not?

I’d like to believe that stands as true for a start-up as it does for an individual. And how does a start-up do that? Firstly, by delivering the product/service that it set out to deliver. And then, by being able to scale. 

And those are both herculean tasks! 

I recently sat on a call with a start-up founder. Like any other start-up founder, he wanted to deliver the product that he set out to deliver, and he wanted to scale. To do so, he invested millions of Australian dollars and a good number of years into the venture. 

And today, four tech teams later—he has been able to do neither. No product. No scaling the business. All that investment in people, time, and resources—in the end, there’s nothing to show for it. 

After all, it’s all about the end product. In the end, technology has to work! And sadly, for him, it did not.

A lot of that has got to do with the team. Being able to get the right people on the team saves time, maximizes productivity, fosters business growth, and reduces turnover costs.

How do start-up founders pick teams?

From what I have seen over the years, there are two ways in which a start-up founder goes about building teams.

Building teams
1. The Lone Wolf Founder

Here’s a founder who likes doing everything alone—the lone wolf. This means that everything in the start-up stems and ends with his person. Everything is seen from their lens, filter, and domain expertise.

The ramifications of it? Well, there are many:

  • A start-up is a creative space and should ideally be brimming with ideas. But there’s as much one person can bring to the table. Given that a lone founder will ideate and decide independently, there’s little room for innovation. 

With a good team, ideas are aplenty. When one doesn’t work, there’s always another.

  • There’s this adage, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And going far in start-ups would mean being able to scale. Without the support of a strong team, a start-up is susceptible to failure. 

With a good team, one that works together, the work pace picks up, and the end goal is met with collaboration from members.

  • A lone wolf works alone. And because everything is done by one person, it means that the pace of work is slow. This, in turn, means less income.

With a good team, where everyone puts in their time and effort, work is done faster and hence more income.

This list can go on and on. And so, I will leave it be for now.

I do understand the want to do everything on one’s own accord. After all, no one understands the start-up better than the founder, right? And there’s this urge to do it perfectly. I see you. I have been here myself. 

After having tried and failed, I say this, “You are not your stakeholder.” There’s more to a start-up’s success than a sheer wish to succeed. Building a good team is sure one of the things! 

Building teams
2. A founder who builds a pack

Here’s a founder who brings on advisors, CTOs, and perhaps even co-founders to the team. This founder doesn’t want to be the only voice and wants to bring in people from different backgrounds who have experience and are open to learning new things. 

There are, however, things that such a founder needs to be analytical about when putting together such a team of experts:

  • The founder needs to avoid Group Think. That’s the last thing one should want. Building a team and having everyone on the team echo your points is counterproductive.

A good team has people who can challenge the founder’s ideas and bring something new to the table.

  • The founder needs to avoid picking a high-salaried team for the sake of it. People from a corporate background come with their baggage and aren’t necessarily what the start-up needs. Corporate-trained people often slow decision-making and bring on red tape.

A good team has people with prior start-up experience and those who understand the challenges and have successfully navigated similar waters before.

  • The founder must ensure that the team understands the end goal and is willing to deliver. The bonus for start-ups is that they are nimble, agile, and innovative. A team that cannot pivot and innovate will not survive the start-up race.

A good team needs to understand the end goal of the start-up and work together to provide innovative solutions. 

So, what should one do?

Whether or not to build a team is an important question. Should one be a lone wolf, or should one work in a pack? Well, as much as I’d want to say that it depends on the type of product/service you want to deliver, I would speak from experience and say that a strong core team can make your start-up a success.

Picking a strong team is rather challenging. Here’s my go-to list of how one goes about doing that:

  • We all want to be a part of something bigger. Bring in people who can see the same bigger picture that you see when you think of your start-up. Having that buy-in from your team and getting them involved in the journey will make a much-needed difference.
  • The engagement of the team is vital. The team needs to take ownership of the product. Only then will they bring in more to the table—from ideas to execution to delivery. Value needs to be added every step of the way, and product ownership makes that possible.
  • Have fun! Work with people you enjoy working with. Work with people you can communicate with—people who do not shy away from telling the boss that they were wrong. Find a team you can vibe with!
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