“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek
You’ve heard the adage, “Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.” Proverbs and clichés aside, this one sticks and for good reason. Anyone can run a decent sprint, but a marathon takes training, dedication, strategy, intention, and patience. And the most successful marathon runners and entrepreneurs surround themselves with the right team, like Brent Grinna, CEO of EverTrue, who modeled this not just in the Boston Marathon, but also in starting up and running his software company.
“You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and propel you forward.” – Kathryn Minshew
As an entrepreneur, particularly during startup, you’re doing a precarious balancing act: brainstorming, problem-solving, strategic planning, marketing and brand-awareness, financing, operational tasks, goal settings, and of course, building your team. And if juggling these key components of creating a viable business isn’t challenging enough, investing in your team and talent as a startup is a daunting task requiring the same level of strategy and tactical work as planning the venture itself.
“A founder’s individual characteristics are important but what’s more important is that person’s ability to bring a bigger and more experienced team with them.” – Rotman School of Management
All too often, entrepreneurs overlook the importance of this step, thinking they can find the right team members later, that they can focus on their company culture later. But despite how we tend to idolize founders as the champions of their respective businesses (think Steve Jobs, Travis Kalanick, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, Sergey Brin and Larry Page), your startup’s success is equally reliant upon your founding team – not just its leader. You need people you can trust to help you build a successful company and knowing how to build that team is essential – and many of those people will be millennials.
“Millennials are a great generation and very active in the job market. They may look like ‘job hoppers’, but that isn’t down to their lack of commitment, it is often down to their drive to progress and grow in the business world. They are often hard workers, quick learners and extremely driven; hiring millennials is a great opportunity to get a fresh perspective and grow your business at a low cost.” – Isabel Ruiz Halter
Your business is ultimately the sum of its parts, meaning that building that badass team must be a top priority – though not without its challenges. Toss in economic recovery, with the unemployment rate at its lowest since December 2000, and attracting team members from their current pursuits presents an altogether different problem – not to mention the workforce’s baby boomers are delaying retirement while the millennials, who make up the bulk of the workforce, are trying to find their place and make their mark. So not only do you need to use a completely different paradigm to attract and retain millennials, but you may also need to bridge the gap between boomers and millennials if you employ both.
Millennials often get a bad rap (dubbed lazy, entitled, noncommittal, attention-seeking, and narcissistic), but millennials just have different motivations and different ways of working. In fact, they’re changing the corporate landscape significantly. But luckily for entrepreneurs, millennials are attracted to startup culture. Unlike the generations before, who hunkered down in dingy offices for meaningless jobs because they offered security, millennials are driven to do impactful work – they want to see their work have real, tangible, and meaningful results. Since empowerment, change, collaboration and inspiration tend to be givens in startup culture, millennials thrive in environments where micromanagement is archaic and where they’re valued, appreciated, respected, and trusted to do their jobs well. Less focused on income and more focused on authenticity, collaboration, innovation, social responsibility, and lifestyle, millennials are also highly educated, technologically savvy, rapid learners and independent workers – they’re inherently adaptable, connected, and diverse. Oftentimes, finding the right team is, then, a blend of experience and talent, hands-on work and education, and always, attitude. Because right from the word go, you’re inevitably (and sometimes unknowingly) creating your corporate culture. Ensuring your chosen team shares the same spirit, mission, and values – rather than focusing solely on experience – will make all the difference in your business.
“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” – Tony Robbins
And with all that in mind, creating authentic and inspired leadership requires focus. In this vein, during your startup phase, when countless processes, procedures, and infrastructure require your attention, you must focus on building the team because they will get you where you want to go. Because as they say, “you and your dream are nothing without your team.”