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Start-up strategy: how to build a great team 



When you’re starting a new company, getting the right people on board is critical. In those early days, they’re not just people working in your business…they are the business.

What’s more, your initial start-up team will set the tone for the future of your business. If they are a group of energetic high-achievers, they’re going to attract other ambitious people to come on board.


Here are some tips on building that turbo-charged team:


  1. Find the right fit

While larger companies often have to deal with ‘non-aligned’ employees, start-ups don’t have that luxury. You need people who can see your vision – and are itching to make it happen.

As well as bringing key skills you need to the business, your tight-knit team has to work well together. Look for proven team players and empathetic leaders.

Also, don’t be afraid to hire those who have failed before. Running a start-up is tough – as these people have learned through valuable experience. They’re less likely to get the speed wobbles or lose motivation at the first hurdle.


  1. Employees, temps or contractors?

When it comes to hiring your team, you have two main choices: employees or self-employed contractors. There are pros and cons to both; but many start-ups find the contractor option is more flexible.

Other options include using temps/agency workers, part-time or casual employees, or engaging interns. 

Whichever route you choose, you’ll need sufficient funds to run the business for at least a few quarters – and ensure there’s enough money to pay bills and salaries on time.


  1. Equity-based incentives

As a business owner, you want to find those ‘extra-milers’ who are passionate about seeing the business succeed. One sure-fire way to incentivise your team is to offer them an equity share in the business.

Setting up an employee share option is one way to attract the talent you want, without draining your cash resources. Share options give employees the option to buy shares in the company, at a time in the future, at a price agreed now. The benefit of having a lock-in period is that your key people are less likely to leave.

Talk to your business advisers about this – they’ll help you structure a share scheme that achieves your objectives.


  1. Getting the culture right

All start-ups are fresh, exciting and full of possibility…as as the owner, you’ll want to keep that energy going.

It’s important to set the tone from the top – by having fun with your team, and showing that you appreciate their efforts. If they’re pulling long hours, for instance, you can reward them with a half-day off, or surprise them with a fun activity off-site. Unlike a large corporate, you have the flexibility to create your own unique culture – right from day one.


  1. Changing of the guard

You may have a partner (or several) that help get your start-up off the ground. For whatever reason, it’s not uncommon to see early-stage businesses change their founders.

Whether you’re the one exiting or staying in the business, getting good advice is critical. There is a host of legal, tax and accounting implications around changing directors and shareholders; so you’ll want to work it to your advantage.

KPMG can help with all aspects of this; including tax calculations and shareholder agreements.


Need start-up advice?

Our team at KPMG Enterprise would love to hear about your start-up plans. Feel free to email us on SmallBusiness@kpmg.co.nz , or give us a call on 0800 576 472.