Build a team to take you to the top

If you want your company to go the distance, you need to surround yourself with the top talent in your industry and create a team that feels like a family.

When you set up your company, you are the developer, marketer, HR manager and finance director as well as the CEO. Having started Huddle with Andy McLoughlin a few years ago, I know only too well what a struggle it is to successfully develop your product, market it, raise funding and manage the growth of the business.

However, as your company starts to grow you soon release that you can’t do everything forever. The plus side is that you get the opportunity to hand pick your team from scratch and, not to put the pressure on, this is not a task to take lightly.

So, how do you go about building your ideal workforce?

  • Hire people that are better than you
    Whilst you may have experience in many different fields, you won’t be an expert in everything. You need to hire a team of people that can deliver the expertise; that are the top of their field whether it’s development, sales or marketing. Talent attracts talent, so this will have the knock on effect of bringing in other great people to your business.
  • Build a team of peers
    Once you have a team in place, make sure that they are involved in who is hired. This goes a long way to foster a sense of family within the company which can only lead to a more productive business. At Huddle, when we hire a new member of the development team, for example, we include an interview with other members of the team as well.
  • Be open with your team
    Make it clear what your company’s targets and roadmaps are, so that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goals. Have regular company-wide meetings so that people can see what different teams are working on and how the company is developing. Encourage staff to test and give feedback on your product or service.
  • Would you want to work in your office?
    This is an important question. In order to attract the top candidates, you need to create a place that people want to work in. That means great people and great surroundings. This will keep staff happy and motivated, putting in the hours to get the job done. Small things can make a big difference – try to organise regular social outings, even if it’s just lunch, get a good coffee machine, a games console and have break out areas where staff can socialise.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no
    It’s hard to find the perfect fit for any job role. You have to be able to imagine yourself working with them every day. If they aren’t someone you want to work long hours with or pop out to lunch with then just say no. There’s no point hiring someone you might have to say goodbye to in a couple of months—you’re better off waiting for the one.
  • Spread your net wide
    The problem with finding your perfect team is you don’t know where they’re hiding. Recommendations are invaluable so speak to family and friends. Get out to networking events to meet people in your industry. Network online as well, put job details on Twitter and Linkedin and use Crunchboard, Monster and any other job boards to spread the message far and wide.
  • Be very clear with recruitment agencies
    Create a preferred supplier list. It’s impossible to manage every single inbound inquiry otherwise. Be very clear about what you’re looking for and demand to see only the best CVs they have. To ensure that recruitment agencies don’t walk all over you, set a fixed rate (around 15 per cent) from the start.

It will be hard work, but when you find the right people to join your company, it’s worth it all in the end.

Alastair Mitchell, who contributed this blog, founded Huddle with Andy McLoughlin as he was frustrated by existing enterprise technology’s inability to help people work together.  Since setting up the company in 2006, Alastair has grown Huddle to 200 people in London, San Francisco and New York, raised in excess of $40 million in funding and seen sales triple year on year.