How to build a killer distributed team for your startup?
I’ve been part of remote teams since very early in my career, I used to collaborate with my counterparts in the U.S. and U.K. when we wrote resumes for professionals from all over the world. As an early adopter on social media platforms, the cross border connections were way simpler and more contextual unlike today's noisy and marketing led connections. When entrepreneurship happened to me, I was very clear to not make ‘location’ or even time-zones a constraint and wanted to work just with the right people no matter where in the world they live, our life’s purpose should be matched and we should have complimenting skills to take action that’s all I looked for.
Here I’m sharing a few strategies, tools and tips on how to build and manage a killer remote team, it starts with you -
You may have the vision to change the world and so on, a vision is nothing if you fear to take enough first steps to explore without knowing the result.
Good to have a vision, keep that card aside for a while and start the journey of execution and giving life to your vision
Have clear goals
Do enough research to have simple objectives on why you want to build (Pro-Tip — you may always think you know the problem, but you never know it, you just keep getting closer to it with your persistence), now break that problem into multiple blocks and the outcome of every block of execution in a measurable way (This is mostly new users, or repeat users which equals to revenues) and then figure what you can do, what you cannot do. The stuff that you cannot do, find out the learning curve by joining communities where people with that skill sets hangout. These can be design groups on slack, or independent freelancers scouting for work for their craft or just follow that # somewhere. Find people and discuss your overall project and that one problem block where you need help, ask them for feedback (Pro-Tip — Never say you want to hire them on a shoe stringed budget), try to understand the effort involved, the complexity of that block and what it takes to execute, what will happen after you solve that one piece of puzzle, once you know that unit of measurement partner with that expert. Pay by giving them the full credit, and visibility for their effort, time and energy in doing something you can’t do and helping you move the needle. This is how you will spot talent and will also be your own learning curve. There’s no short-cut to this route, hence people say “Always be hiring”
Startups are hard, and it will take time, there are no short cuts and there’s no such thing called luck, it’s just pure resilience. Be patient, believe in yourself and keep moving, every little step compounds. Coming to the jargon-free point here on sustainability— sell something before its being built, see what people want, and what will they pay you for. This is the unit economics which you will be able to figure when you make those problem blocks. Fill the void. “Always be selling” when you’re bootstrapped and building a remote team you need to make sure you’re able to sustain your team's needs and career development beyond money.
Transparency, Tools, and Tech
These are a few practical tips that may help you ensure that all your efforts are manageable, with that said there’s no size fit all approach, it always ‘depends’
- Someone who’s not comfortable working from the comfort of his home, that means he has a lot of personal distractions in life and may not be a good fit for remote work
- If somebody is shy to even talk or get on video calls even after a few initial ice-breakers. Not a good fit. There’s no such thing as introverts or extroverts, a good comfortable environment can change everything. Over communication is the key in a remote team
- Over communication does not mean policing work hours, time or filling up mundane documents to show progress reports
- Use a combination of personal and team tools Drive, Paper Dropbox, Slack, Trello, Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype (Yes, still) and that’s it
- The key is to manage the attention of the person and not the person itself
- Do not try a new productivity tool for every new problem, just do a call
- It is always your fault, anything that goes wrong is your fault, be a problem solver and not a fault finder, take things in your stride, don’t be harsh on yourself, but yeah big things do take big sacrifices.
- Focus on building an unbreakable remote culture that helps people grow in their personal life stories, your team will be non-poachable forever!
Happy building a team! And if we can help you spot talent, pls. create your company account here https://stackraft.com/companies and post your jobs, FREE!
Full Disclosure — I run StackRaft.