Starting with nothing and turning it into something takes time. Lots of time. Your time, your business partners time, your teams time, and the time of people who will listen to you and give you feedback. It is hard to get these moments - to convince someone to give up an hour, or day, or week or year of their time to help you build a company.
I’ve read articles on how to build a team once you have the essential people locked, but where do you start if you’re starting from nowhere? Networking goes without saying, but here are a couple other tips that I’ve found to be helpful.
1,) Put the shamwow in their hands and give them a bucket of water.
If you’re trying to sell an orange piece of cloth by talking about how absorbent it is…good luck. You need to hand over the shamwow and allow whoever you’re trying to convince, to let them have a go. Show them that if they are to join the start-up, they will be totally hands-on and shape what happens. They will make an impact.
It’s always proven more powerful for me to start by letting a new team member influence the business rather than to hand them a defined role and ask that they fill it. If you don’t like how they influence the project when you enable them, you may not want to work with them anyway.
2.) Figure out who actually has the time to commit
When I moved to NYC three years ago, I hardly knew anyone. I’d make up ways to fill my time just to feel busy. Now its hard to find a free moment to myself. Different people have different reasons for being busy, or for having too much time on their hands.
If you find someone who you’d like to work with, chat with them about what they do with their time outside the office. It is difficult to deal with a constant stream of people that say the want to be a part of the start-up but have to bail a couple weeks in because they’re too busy.
If you find someone with extra time on their hands, talk with them about how fun and rewarding working on the start-up is. If they have the time, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a job for them to do.
3.) Have fun!
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! Being the head of a start-up and being negative doesn’t work. You can’t be positive all the time (believe me I’ve learned), but when chatting with your team (or potential team), always try to have fun. People like to be a part of something that’s enjoyable. Sell that aspect of it. Ditch off and get beers early one night, laugh when you royal mess something up, play on YouTube a little too long, smile and say thanks.
4.) Take what you can get
I’ll admit it, this has been how my business partner and I have gotten to the point that we are at today. When you’re trying to build a company from scratch, you constantly have to have it in the back of your mind. When an opportunity arises to talk to someone smart about what you’re doing, jump at that opportunity. Even if it doesn’t seem overly appropriate or seems to be a bit off topic - if you really want to run a company rather than work for one, take any chance you can get.