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Building Successful Teams

06 October 2021

6 minute read

Practical advice for founders on hiring the right staff and building a board that will act as an engine of growth. 

The Main Problem
Startup founders face two massive challenges as their business grows: hiring the right staff and building a board that will act as an engine of growth.
For insight on hiring talent and building successful teams, Rise spoke to two FinTech founders with growing startups. Ky Nichol is CEO of Cutover, a work orchestration platform and Roei Samuel is CEO of Connectd, an investment platform for early stage startups. Speaking on the Rise Founders Coffee Club podcast, they shared a host of good advice including:

  • Recruiting the right person at right stage is crucial. In the early days you may need generalists who can fulfil many roles.
  • Be realistic about the roles you can afford to fill.
  • If hiring generalists, consider how their roles can be refined as the company grows.
  • A can-do attitude is ultra-important, especially at the early stages.
  • Diverse hires will bring in different perspectives, skills and approaches.
  • Founders need to give time to building and developing teams as well as talking to customers.
  • Referrals are a great way to reduce the risk of hiring new staff.
  • Use your network to identify what to look for when hiring into an area you may not know much about.
  • Do whatever you can to make your team feel part of the vision and the journey, whether remotely or preferably face-to-face.
  • Work ethic and attitude outweigh talent, so look for people who have a growth mindset and empower them to succeed.
  • Responsibility, accountability and recognition are very important if you can’t compete on salary.
  • Understand what your company culture is and think carefully if a potential new hire is the right fit.

Team Building Tips From Mike Baliman
Mike Baliman is a non-executive director and advisor with extensive experience in financial services and FinTech. He is the founder and host of the London FinTech Podcast and author of The Realpolitik of the Unlisted Company Board: Making Your Board an Engine of Growth. Among the insight and advice Mike shared during a recent live virtual Rise event were:

  • Don’t underestimate how much a board can change the life of a founder and the success of their business, either positively or negatively.
  • Founders will inevitably have doubts and concerns but need to show positivity in front of their team. A good board will be able to hear those concerns and offer reassurance or find solutions.
  • Don’t have a ‘set and forget’ attitude towards a board. As your business grows you will be able to attract ‘better’ board members.
  • You may start with friends and families on the board then progress to angel investors before industry big-hitters will be interested in joining.
  • Be honest with potential board members that you may only want them for a set ‘tour of duty’.
  • Being able to communicate your vision is key to attracting people onto your board. 
  • Attracting a quality chairman will make it easier to recruit other board members.
  • Your board will need to look more like a corporate board as it approaches an IPO.
  • The board needs to act as an engine for growth.
  • Founders should be wary of giving away so much of the company that they can no longer control who is on the board.
  • Non-executives need different skills to founders. Watch out for non-execs who keep ‘grabbing the steering wheel’.
  • Ask a potential chairman how he or she handled specific problems such as clashes between boards and founders.
  • Founders inevitably focus on product and customers, a key role for the chairman is to ensure that the business is developing into one that will have optimal value at exit.
  • The board plays an important role in corporate governance, but there are also realpolitik aspects that are more about personal relationships and the need to find workable solutions to tough problems. Consider both when building your board.
  • Document your board proceedings properly from the outset. It will help impress VCs in the future.

Watch the full event recording on the Rise YouTube channel.

All information contained herein shall only be used by the recipient for his⁄her own personal reference. This communication is intended for general information purposes only. No part of this communication is intended to constitute business, investment, financial, bidding, property, or legal advice and should not be relied upon by any party as a substitute for professional advice. Any third-party entities described in this document are not endorsed or sponsored by Barclays or its affiliates. With this communication, Barclays is not seeking or offering to enter into any transaction with any party. This communication has not been reviewed or approved by any regulatory authority. © Barclays 2021

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