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May 28, 2020 08:21 PM EDT

How To Successfully Manage A Startup Team


How To Successfully Manage A Startup Team

(Photo : Unsplash)

How do you successfully manage a startup team?

No matter how incredible your startup idea, natural genius, education, innovative product, and timing, most of your success is going to rely on your ability to manage a team.

You cannot do it all alone. You can only be the founder. You can launch with a small team and bootstrap it for the first few years. Or, you can have enormous amounts of capital from early fundraising rounds. However, to go big and last, and especially fast, you absolutely need a team.

This team can be in-house or virtual, or a mix of both. What's really important is your skill in managing your team. Here are some tips to help you with that.

Start With Values

Successful repeat entrepreneurs are increasingly showing that the best startups begin with a solid business model and a strong foundation. That means your values. 

Ignore this foundational step, and everything else is going to be much more difficult. There will be many more iterations and corrections to be made, dollars wasted, time lost, and resets to be done. 

Hire The Best

With your values laid out and in hand, get to recruiting and hiring the best possible team you can.

Hiring the best talent you possibly can alone makes managing the team easier, and progressing through all of your upcoming milestones, including new funding rounds, easier. 

Just be sure you are recruiting and hiring through the lens of your values. Don't compromise here. This filter will help ensure future management is much smoother and streamlined. Failing to do so, will create many pain points. Often, right at the worst moments. 

Understanding and capturing the right team members that you require will be part of your business plan. In the video below you will learn how to write a business plan.


Hire Managers

Don't just hire workers for the machine and production line. Hire managers. 

If you don't you'll find you are just spending all of your personal time being a manager. Not a CEO, founder, business owner, or innovator. If you just wanted a new job as a line manager, there are plenty of people hiring, without the risk, long hours, and capital requirements of launching a startup. 

Instead, hire managers. Hire someone for HR to do the recruiting for you. Hire an executive recruiter. Find key executives, department managers, and project managers. Let them hire and manage their reports.

Get Everyone On The Same Page

Be sure that everyone from your HR person to your executives and customer service and admin staff are on the same page. 

Too many business owners cloak the business in layers of secrecy and then wonder why people aren't working in the right direction. 

In contrast, be sure everyone knows and has bought into the biggest vision.

Be sure they are on the same page and know what are the goals from a timeline perspective.

Be sure they know the immediate and most important tasks that should be taking up their complete focus. 

Equipped with your values, they have the guidelines and guiding principles and boundaries for how to make it happen and get there in the right way. 

Then inspire them to do it.

Delegate & Empower

Now that you have a team, you know what they need to do. They know what they need to do, and the lanes they should be in. 

Delegate. Give them the responsibility. Then, empower them to actually do their best work. Get out of their way. If you have hired the best, they own your values, and understand the short and long term goals, they'll do it much better without you there. 

That can be hard for some founders to swallow and get their heads around. Especially those micro-managed in previous jobs or through their education. Yet, until you get this, and do it, your startup will always be at a disadvantage.

Get over it. Remember your responsibility to your investors, your teams, the customers and world, and yourself. Don't be someone you would fire for being a roadblock to success. 

Systems & Processes

If you are worried about giving teams too much freedom of interpretation, and you really want to scale, put systems and processes in place.

If they are following the systems and processes, you'll enjoy much more autonomy and speed in growing your startup. 

Yet, don't get stuck on them. You are setting out to innovate and disrupt the status quo. Don't replace that with hard, stale "it's the way we always do it rules." Be flexible. Be open to being challenged to color outside of the lines. Be careful in how you reprimand those who do, and why.


Even following all of the above steps, there will be miscommunication and mistakes. 

You will have to address problems and behaviour. You may have to admit mistakes and correct your own patterns. 

The biggest mistake is to not communicate enough. You don't always have to have all the answers or the perfect answers. Just keep communicating and keep on doing it consistently.


Enroll great advisors to help you. If you haven't run a business before, a hot startup, or even managed teams, you need advisors. They'll save you an enormous amount of time, stress, energy, and losses. Look for those who have been there before. Fundraising advisors, marketing consultants, and M&A experts are all a part of this.

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