Times are turbulent. Everything revolves around our little startup, and we have great aspirations. Motivations are omnipresent. Work is getting done 24/7, new ideas are being exchanged, and the team is growing fast as we meet new challenges head on. Expectations are growing and the project timeline is expanding. Visible results seem in sight at the beginning, but reaching them is a Herculean job. Every startup has its own recipe for success, but for any team to reach their goals, three traits are necessary all bellow.
1. Great team culture
To put it simply, we faceinnumerable challenges, and we don’t complain about it – the opposite actually. There is one thing that unifies us – our goal to succeed in making a positive impact. With that in mind the team learns and quickly improves. Actually, it’s not only the ultimate goal but it’s the process of learning how to get there that keeps us together. Every new idea, news, or finding that works in our favor (or not) is an opportunity for us to get closer as a team, to know each other and work better together. Great team culture is critical for a project like ours.
Culture, where team members enjoy learning and applying lessons learned, is a must. In adverse conditions – because every startup faces many challenges during its adventure – two things happen fastest – losing your hair and learning. It’s important to eliminate the first and focus on the second. Keeping the right balance between learning and moving forward is the most critical job for a startup. Learning is important to distinguish yourself from others, and that’s where it matters how good a team you have – how well you can identify key issues (and ignore the rest), communicate and exchange knowledge are the qualities that determine how fast and efficiently you can advance in the learning process. This is tightly related to your ability to make good decisions.When you come to a crossroads, knowing which direction to go may be a very complex decision, but it’s also much simpler if you can quickly identify the criteria that matter and ignore the rest. Studying the technicalities down to the detail, sharing the work among the team and the consequent knowledge are crucial tasks for the team to succeed.
However, learning is not just a process of studying technology, the market, competition and the like, it’s about learning how to work together, how to be most efficient, how to face challenges and how to communicate. It’s about the rhythm you set for your team and about the rhyme you can keep up with. We’ve focused on building a team that is not discouraged by mistakes, slow processes, inefficiencies, or moody people ( everybody has a bad day sometimes).
People must believe in the idea of the brand and understand that success is about team culture and persistence. The persistence to constantly look for and improve the process, and the culture to support one another. Additionally, flexibility and understanding are musts – strategy may change and so may the product, the service, the partners, and the project roadmap. Not all the changes will be smooth. This is where the culture comes into play and separates the good from the great.
Building the right team is critical.In order to build a great product (and an all star team) we chose to face challenges other teams would not – and accelerate our learning.
Although we understand that having a team who sits down together everyday can be a great advantage and is often a must for efficient cooperation, in our case we did not follow this rule. We focused on creating the best team with the best individuals and we sought the biggest talents no matter where they were.
Organizing and managing such a team could under normal circumstances be incredibly inefficient and difficult. I believe we have turned this “believe” upside down – we decided to be the opposite – the most efficient team. Honestly – having reliable, engaged and excited people makes the job much easier. Everybody is well aligned with our common goal. Furthermore, adversity can be a huge motivator. As the project moves forward the team also comes together with each minor task fulfilled. We did everything we could to avoid mediocrity and we focused on getting the best although it has involved struggle.
In the beginning, the individual team members’ roles overlap, the project timeline and milestones are unclear, and people may be confused and overwhelmed with the complexity of the project. It is vital for the team to be dedicated to see through the dark, repeatedly making an effort towards progressing with issues that seem overly complex, in areas never before explored.
The emails, project deadlines, Skype conferences, responsibilities, dependencies, collaboration, traveling, staying up late, moving outside your comfort zone —this is where persistence is necessary to lead your team through the struggle. Often the day after the next is when you’ll see the sunshine again so hold on, never lose faith in your team. Keep improving the process and always set an example. It’s often easier said than done. There will always be new challenges and new tasks.Every startup is a story, unique in its own way.There is no cookbook.Only team culture, flexibility and persistence will keep you on the right track.