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How to build the perfect start-up team

Enternships founder Rajeeb Dey explains the importance of developing an 'employer brand'

I’m often asked to speak at enterprise events and usually can pre-empt what I’ll be asked during audience question time. However, last week I was caught off guard. A student asked me, “Now that you’ve hired a team, how has it changed your life as an entrepreneur?” It was a silly answer but after a brief pause I replied “I drink a lot more tea!” Indeed I do drink a lot more tea, but that’s only half the story. I also have a great deal more fun and my business moves quicker and more efficiently because of the team around me.

Follow your gut

Recruitment for start-ups is more of an art than a science. As a young entrepreneur, no-one sat me down and told me the rights and wrongs of recruitment, and it’s been a trial and error learning process. As and when the time has been right, I’ve added team members who have had the expertise that I was looking for. But I’ve certainly never worked to a recruitment timetable. All the people that currently work for me I either met at networking events or I hired after they made themselves indispensable while doing an internship with me.

Share your passion

Building a team to support your ideas, vision and passion is fun – but time consuming. The sheer amount of paperwork associated with taking on a member of staff makes hiring that bit more onerous. But hire you must; as even the most energetic entrepreneurs have limits. Start-ups do not need big recruitment budgets or HR departments to attract top talent, but it is important that you develop a brand people will be attracted to. Make sure you convey your brand values – What does your company stand for? Why are you doing something exciting? Why would they want to work for you?

Plan for growth

If you are currently thinking about taking on additional people, think about the skills you have and the skills you need. Then think about where it is you want to get to by making the hire. Does it make sense to take on a full-time member of staff, when outsourcing work might deliver faster and more cost-effective results? Take your time to make sure the person you have in mind shares your ethos, rather than hiring someone who just wants a job.

Seek complementary characters

I often advise entrepreneurs to hire staff who possess outstanding patience. I’ll often be struck with an idea before I go to sleep and, by the time I get to the office the next morning, I’ve got a whole new concept that I eagerly want to get implemented that day – and take to market that evening. This doesn’t often sit well with technology development schedules, as I’ve learned from the look in my developer’s eyes when I unveil my latest ‘grand idea’! Hire people with the strength of character to keep you focused on the overall vision (and the courage to say no to you at times!) but also staff that can translate your ideas into action.

Be the boss

I want to take my business into every territory possible and to turn my company into a market leader; but I can’t do that by simply flying around the world. It’s my team that will gradually edge us to success. The responsibility of the business owner is to set the framework, hire good people and then trust and support them to succeed. Every entrepreneur, no matter how early-stage your business is, should think about developing an employer brand which top talent will aspire to be a part of. Rajeeb Dey is the founder and CEO of enternships.com, a portal that provides internships for students in entrepreneurial businesses

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