At dinner last night, we had a very interesting debate about different strategies for building great teams. While hiring well is, undoubtedly, one of the most difficult elements of startups, the winning formula seems to be very clear: Hire great people that work great together and are inspired by the company’s vision. The first two factors of the equation need no further explanation; great people that can work well together is a winning formula to build great things. However, great people and great teams are not enough to build great companies; you still need an inspirational vision.
In the early stages of a startup vision is everything. When you don’t have a lot of traction or financial success, only a great visions can inspire people to join your team and help to make your company better. However, after the company grows a little bit and achieves some success, I’ve found that a lot of startups stop emphasizing their vision as the cornerstone of the company and, instead, they focus on inspiring employees with their initial success.
Success can be projected in many ways: industry awards, financial rewards, killer offices etc. Some of those versions of success can definitely attract people to join your company as most intelligent people prefer to join a successful venture than an unsuccessful one. However, success is rarely a factor to inspire people to do great things. When a successful image becomes the center of your company instead of an inspirational vision, you are likely to attract people that are only there in the good times and that can only execute in short term goals. It’s not a surprise that a lot of companies go through a transformation process after they achieve an initial wave of success in order to find their soul again.
As a founder and/or CEO, your MOST IMPORTANT JOB is to clearly articulate your company vision to the key players in your company so that they can communicate it within their teams. A solid vision will keep your team together and focused during the difficult times and it will serve as the inspiration to take your company to the next level during the good times. Financial success, a fun culture, awards are important but rarely inspirational. Selling a great vision can help create successful companies but selling success will only help you to create mediocrely successful ones.