How to Prepare an Early-Stage Startup Team for Success?

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3 years ago

Let’s assume you are the founder of a startup that wants to solve a big problem concerning an even greater group of people. At the same time, your MVP is going from something functional to a user-friendly product. On top of it, you’ve tested your product on the market, and it all looks promising while you’ve succeeded at hiring some exciting talent to help your startup further expand.

So, what’s there not to like? Right!

Your startup might be flying high at the moment, but don’t think that things can’t go sideways soon and fast. Like it or not, approximately 90% of all startups fail, and there is nothing simple about not being part of the wrong side of that statistic.

According to the same source, about 18% of all startups tend to fail because of team-related issues. Yes, finding a strong market and an amazing product/service to serve that market is simply not enough, not unless you can cultivate a top-quality team.

Hiring many passionate and smart people, putting a ping-pong table in their recreational rooms, bringing fresh fruit every day to them, and hoping that this will suffice to have your team operate at their best is absurd. Not to mention the complexities that will arise once you start expanding your original team.

Here is a poke to some of the most common problems when nurturing a highly efficient team.

Objectives and Strategy

In theory, this is one of the most straightforward and must-do things. However, at some point in all that chaos, objectives and strategy might be neglected on account of other stuff.

As the CEO of a startup, one responsible for the entire company, it is easy to get stuck into the day-to-day issues, trying to deal with every little issue that occurs. This is especially common with young and inexperienced founders. Failing to focus on objectives and strategy based on some other day-to-day problems can easily lead to misalignment. That and poor prioritization can be quite dangerous and can lead to a lack of focus and will indeed ripple down to everyone else in your company. When that happens, you can forget about reaching the growth speed you aspired to as a startup.

Fortunately, there is a pragmatic solution that can help you avoid such troubles. That is a system called “Objective Key Results (OKRs).” OKRs can help in removing everything that doesn’t hold any significant importance and prioritize above all. Developing OKRs can be a challenging and often tedious process. But if you get them right, and in combination with a growth model, you will be able to discover the most important inputs to accomplish specific goals. That’s one of the essential steps in aligning your team to the right trajectory for growth and success.

Responsibilities and Roles

In an early-stage startup, quite often, team members are assigned more than one task. Those that have worked previously in a startup know that too well. Then some are new and somewhat confused by all the multitasking and even improvisation they have been asked to do. Some may even find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities assigned to them. Clearly defined tasks and responsibilities are the way forward with every team member. That way, they don’t wander from one task to another task but always stay on track of what they have been doing.

Assigning roles and responsibilities get even more complex as the team increases. Furthermore, as the startup grows, roles and responsibilities will also be frequently reshaped. All that can be the cause of discomfort among team members and put them under huge pressure. Clear communication is the proper way to address this issue for those feeling unease about their new roles within the company.

Money and Time

The entanglement of time and money more than often starts tensions in a startup. Getting things done in as little time as possible while bringing costs to a minimum is everything but easy. Then you want your team to be very motivated, efficient, and on track to meet your most important milestones.

Based on experience from other startups, the key here is to keep everyone in the loop. Let everyone know the importance of the things they want to accomplish, how time-sensitive is all that, and the outcome of their hard work. Failing to keep them in the loop can easily result in them doubtful about your motives and can even trigger resignations.

By letting them know about your motives and what’s at stake, you establish a certain “sense of urgency” that will keep them on track. The better you articulate your reasoning, the less discomfort they will feel. Manage to align the “sense of urgency” with your OKRs, and things will be much easier from that moment on.

For example, let’s say you need to create some software for a short period that you need to present to your investors. The team responsible for creating that software might have doubts about its quality and all the bugs that might appear. They might not be comfortable with the making of something they feel is below their standards. But if you are straightforward about it all, they may be easily onboard and grind night and day until the project is complete.


It all begins with hiring employees with a growth mindset that are not afraid to work under pressure and taking on new responsibilities. Next, you need to give them clear directions about their work and responsibilities. Ideally, they need to be kept in the loop to know what’s at stake and how important their work is. And to make all that work, you need to use a system such as the Objective Key Results (OKRs). That’s how you stay on top of things as a leader and make your teams get things done fast and efficiently.



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