Growing a Startup Team, Organically

In the last few months, eCommHub is proud to have added four new members to our team. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has certainly been an exciting experience to see the company grow cohesively. Anyone who’s ever gone through the hiring process knows that it can sometimes be slow-moving, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of the strategies we used to successfully grow our team, as well as some of the hurdles we faced during this process.

Why is it important?

Before we jump right into team-building strategies, let’s talk about why this should concern everyone. After all, many entrepreneurs get into the industry because they want autonomy. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), there is only so much one person can do alone. The simple truth is that the more your business grows, the more employees you will need. The importance of hiring is further compounded in a young company because every member has an immense influence on its future direction.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
- Jim Rohn, motivational speaker

Roshan Choxi, CEO of Bloc.io, told me this almost exactly one year ago. Since then, it has been a constant reminder to me that I need to surround myself with great people. The idea that we are defined by those we surround ourselves with can easily be applied to one’s role in any company. A startup’s culture is the average of its early team. Great companies do not hire people merely to pick up boring tasks they don’t want to do; they hire people that can help elevate their company and push its limits. They hire people better than them: the people that they can learn the most from.

Bringing the Pieces Together

Now that we’ve established the importance of finding the right people, it’s time to talk about how to find these solid hires. While eCommHub has been growing quickly, we are not yet a brand name that can choose from the resumes of the cream of the crop. I’m sure many of you can sympathize with that particular problem, whether you are an entrepreneur with an idea or a hiring manager for a big business. This means you must be very deliberate with not only who you bring on to the team, but how you hire them.

Always be hiring: First things first, always be hiring. Exhibit a proactive mindset and strive for clarity with respect to hiring. This does not mean you should be aggressive or annoying, but when people do ask about your career, don’t be afraid to let your passion and enthusiasm shine through. Sell your company and vision. Make sure everyone sees how much, not only you, but your whole team loves what they do; you may be surprised how contagious that enthusiasm is.

Right Place, Right Time: Great employees will not fall into your lap. If you want to meet the right people, you need to put yourself in the right situations! For example, Meetup is an awesome resource for finding like-minded individuals. You can search based on your interests and priorities. Atlanta Ruby Users and Southeast Magento Meetup are two local groups that are really relevant to eCommHub, and I’ve had a lot of success meeting great people there who have become great connections for us.

It’s bigger than you: Startups are in it together, so act like it. Collaborate with a variety of companies in different industries to cast a wider net. The social dynamics really change when your mindset goes from “how can I get this person to work for me” to “how can I help this person find the perfect job for them” . Sometimes the answer is eCommHub, other times it’s not and that’s okay. When I began to telling others that I had a network of entrepreneurs looking potential new hires, candidates began approaching me. This effect compounds exponentially once you actually start matching people to jobs that fit them. It’s a textbook win-win: by providing free leads to smart people and scrappy startups, I was able to screen more people for eCommHub while giving back to the local startup culture.

Smart Students: Be sure to develop a relationship with local universities. They are goldmines of potentially untapped talent. Think about how many students are currently twiddling their thumbs at part-time secretarial gigs at the Office of Alumni when they’d much rather work on projects relevant to their coursework. Sometimes, however, the official college organization in charge of connecting students and employers isn’t the best route to find these students. Instead, try finding them through college organizations that directly complement your needs. For example, Georgia Tech has several developer organizations and entrepreneurial societies full of brilliant and bright-eyed students raring to get some real-world experience.

Hire a person, not a role. An early founder does not have the luxury of waiting for that one, perfect rockstar candidate. Look for dedication, not just intelligence. It’s easy to teach people facts and techniques; it’s much harder to ignite passion that isn’t there. Also keep in mind that as young company, you’ll all be spending a lot of time together. You’ll need to be able to make decisions together effectively and for that, communication has got to be really tight. Getting along means getting things done.

 

 

Getting the right people on the bus is the first and foremost priority followed by building rapport and trust amongst the team members — the better the team works together, the better the results.
David Cummings, founder of Pardot; owner of Atlanta Tech Village

 

Because eCommHub was at a stage where we needed every domain, including development, sales, marketing, and support, a strategy I had success with was primarily focusing on bringing together a group of people who got along well with each other. Then, after we had been working together for a while and had a chance to work with every facet of the company, we began to naturally gravitate to the roles we fit into and drive those areas all the more effectively.

A startup’s edge is having perseverance and taking risks. Take your next risk on a passionate individual who might not have all the skills you need just yet, but is scrappy and motivated enough figure them out quickly and put their all into growing your business.

Make them Great

To truly grow a team, you must be willing to invest in them. This comes down to paying competitively or providing an amazing experience. Here at eCommHub, we really believe in the value of both, but as a scrappy startup we make especially sure to provide each member of our team the job of their dreams. The way we do this is by giving them a challenge; we show them that eCommHub solves a real problem in the e-commerce fulfillment / drop-shipping industry and that everything they do makes a real impact for all of our customers. Together, we make tight integrations with the latest technologies to help make it easy for online retailers to optimize their workflow and deliver their products to their customers.

Once they step up to the challenge, we empower them by awarding them with ownership of their domain and being deliberate about establishing trust. A great leader will be careful to give people room to grow and favor encouragement over mandates. Once each teammate not only expects, but knows that the others will do a great job, magic happens!

Bringing the team together has been a three-month initiative that has been trying in some unexpected ways. Now that everything is finally starting to come together, I wanted to share some of the insights we have already gained from growing eCommHub. After just one week working together with the new team, I already felt motivated to achieve the goals we set out for summer and am more excited than ever for the future.

Look forward to some great features coming out of our icebox and regular updates for our progress!

We love feedback! What other ways do you go about hiring and keeping great people?