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How To Choose The Right Team Members For Your Startup (As An African Entrepreneur)


Choosing the right team members for your startup is really essential. The effectiveness of your team will undoubtedly influence whether a business thrives or fails, since as the company grows, each member of the team will be expected to provide credible results on a regular basis.

Here are a few pointers on how to put together a team that can help you reach your goals as an early-stage startup and expand as an organization:

1. Prior Experience.

It might be obvious, but a team with start-up experience has a huge advantage over its other competitors. The start-up ecosystem is difficult enough to navigate once you understand the way it works (especially in Africa). When you have zero prior start-up experience, every challenge is a brand new one. No matter how nice a person is, you need to know that they can do the job. A good way to determine a person’s ability to get the job done is by looking at their experience. 

  • Have they done similar work in other positions? 
  • How long have they been performing these duties? 
  • Do they have education in the area of work? 

The more experience someone has, the more they will be able to contribute with the least training. Of course, you also want to find someone who is trainable and willing to adapt to your systems and processes.  

It should therefore be noted that it is important for entrepreneurs to work on getting the best talent, not the cheapest talent. Consider five important factors when choosing your team members, such as loyalty, personality, experience, hard work, and common sense. 

2. Talent.

Once a start-up has matured into a late-stage company, the company culture and mechanics have become bigger than any individual team member. But, in earlier stages of the start-up’s lifecycle, each member’s individual skill level will make a huge difference.  

Unfortunately, only two out of five start-ups are usually profitable, while others will either fail or experience a continuous loss of money. That challenge is even higher in a post-pandemic world where, without the right formula, plan, and people, businesses can break with ease. 

The seamless hiring process and unique ways of candidate engagement are, therefore, of paramount importance. If you do it properly, most of your employees are likely to stick around for around four years.

So, here are some creative ways to hire top talents for your start-up team; 

  • Give reasons to candidates for why they should work for you.  

Hiring was careless, average, and detached in the previous decade. It is time to get all in, be creative, and leverage all the features your start-up has. One of the most remarkable advantages you have is your employer brand. You might be new, but there is no one else like you. Use that. 

  • Offering outstanding employee benefits and perks. 

It is not all about wages, especially for the largest generation in the workforce, the millennials, and their younger counterparts, generation Z. These professionals care deeply about their experience, development, and what they can learn in a company. So, they will highly appreciate employee benefits that encompass these concerns. 

  • Treat candidates like future customers. 

Many employers fail to see job applicants as humans who, even if they don’t match the company’s requirements, could be valuable to the business in the future. Even though profit shouldn’t be the main drive behind providing people with a seamless candidate experience, it is an incentive for many leaders. 

  • Employ your whole team as recruiters.  

One of the perks of start-ups is that they are usually small, and everyone knows everyone. Besides, they probably don’t have big recruitment teams or envious amounts of HR resources. That’s why, as a young start-up, you should leverage the close connections in your workplace and encourage every employee to participate in recruitment and selection. 

  • Use technology (but you don’t have to go for the costly ones). 

Many start-ups make the mistake of either not using any tech to hire top talent or investing too much in complex platforms that are better for larger companies. Start-ups are usually not large. Especially those in early development phases. They don’t require robust, multifunctional, and expensive recruitment systems. 

3. Adaptability.

Speaking of wearing multiple hats, putting together a start-up team that can embrace the adapt-or-die nature of the start-up scene will put you miles ahead of the competition. 

Let’s be honest: some products don’t sell. When that happens, weaker teams will quit and chalk it up to poor timing or execution.  

4. Communication.

Having a team of well-rounded, seasoned start-up veterans is great, but it means nothing if they can’t clearly communicate with each other. 

5. Dedication.

A start-up team isn’t like a typical corporate enterprise, and that’s not by accident. In order to succeed, start-up teams have to be built differently. By their very nature, start-ups require passionate people. Let’s face it: the base pay for start-ups is lower than that of corporate enterprises, the work can be significantly more stressful, and the job security is way lower.

6. Focus.

Anyone who’s been a part of the start-up scene for a while will tell you that start-ups can be draining. While they can be incredibly creatively fulfilling, there’s no getting around the fact that working for a start-up can get pretty stressful. 

On a typical work day, you’re likely to find phones ringing, emails dinging, and instant messages needing workers’ attention. 

These distractions can be detrimental to focus and lower output in the long run. To encourage focus amongst teams, leaders and team managers can look into any of the following tactics.  

  • Get organised. 

Projects should be carefully planned with a clear objective and both short term and long-term goals. When people don’t know what they need to do, their focus is scattered. Team members can end up prioritizing tasks that are not critical or dedicating time to tasks that are not theirs to tackle. 

  • Reduce clutter. 

A carefully designed and well decorated office can be good for bringing some cheer into the workplace, but it can also work to the detriment of focus.  

Studies reveal that when there are competing stimuli, it can be hard to focus. Research also backs up the fact that interruptions increase the amount of time it takes to perform a task. Therefore, office managers should aim for an environment that is clutter-free. 

  • Manage meetings better. 

Meetings are often criticised for being time-draining and focus-eating, but they don’t seem to be going away any time soon. To limit their downsides and encourage focus, carefully plan for them beforehand.  

Share an agenda so that participants know what to expect and assign roles so that you are sure that everyone present is engaged and paying attention. Most importantly, keep meetings brief because people can only pay attention for a while before their minds begin to wander. 

  • Have conversations with your team. 

Team leaders may need to have a dialogue with their teams to get to the bottom of what encourages focus and what makes it suffer. For instance, it might come to light that the team prefers to have brainstorming sessions in the morning rather than in the afternoon.

7. Comradery.

While metrics, products, and founders are certainly critical components to the eventual success or failure of a start-up, one thing is for sure: company culture is everything.  

Company culture is about more than free snacks and a ping-pong table in the office. It’s about creating an ecosystem that nurtures resourceful ideas and rewards creative thinking. It’s what can attract the right team members and it’s what can keep those star team members around. 

8. Vision.

What separates the rare businesses that survive is vision. Having team members who only care about the next three months can still work, but your business has a much better chance of long-term success if your team members are thinking about the future of your business and what it could become. 

Nichole Manhire

Is the media and brand manager at GFA News. She works very closely with editors and podcasters that contribute to telling the African business success story. For marketing and advertising send Nichole an email:

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