In Startup mode you can’t hire all the team you want from day one. But you know who they are, right? You’ve been admiring their work for years.
So how can you get them on the team? Write to them. Show them pictures of their work in your scrapbook. And tell them your mission. And tell them the change you will make.
What you have to do is to build a virtual team. That is what you have to do. Go virtual.
Recently I was working with our graphic designer Nick Hand (Virtual Team Member) on the Yearbook for Hiut Denim Co. He came in with a book from a famous graphic designer and illustrator in New York (James Victore). I loved his work. His work was already in my scrapbooks. ‘We need to work with people as good as him,’ said Nick.
I was thinking, we don’t need to work with people like him. We need to work with him. So somehow I found out his email. And I wrote to him. I told him my town was going to make jeans again. And if we wanted to get everybody their jobs back we would have to be brilliant. And that meant we could only work with the best. So we had to work with him. He wrote back and said ‘I’m in’.* If I had looked at our budget, I would never have sent him the email.
*He also designed the cover for Do book.
Underfunded. No budgets for anything. Cash flow issues. You can't afford to work with the best. But then again, you can't afford not too.
I agree with the Real Madrid chairman: Expensive is cheap. His point is that buying a £70 million player was better value than buying a £10 million player. The Galacticos (as he calls them) sold more shirts, got more press and did more for the ‘Real Madrid’ brand around the world. The £10 million players did none of these things, so he deemed them expensive.
I am figuring you don’t have £70 million to burn on talent. But if you want to succeed, you will have to work with the best.
So whether it’s a website builder, a photographer, a designer, a hacker, tell them your small budget means they can have creative freedom. The one thing creative people want is to show the rest
of the world how creative they are. So you can’t give them lots of money, but you can give them lots of freedom. Let them fly. They live to fly.
Not every hire works out. And both parties know it quickly. Within three months you know that, well, it isn’t going to end well. And yet companies don’t act. The person isn’t happy. The team isn’t happy.* And that can last for years. Decades, even.
Your duty is to the team, the culture, and ultimately to the purpose of the company. And, therefore, you have to do the difficult thing quickly.
The person would be happier in another job. The team would be happier with another person. And life is too short for people to be miserable. People make the mistake of being nice, and not dealing with the problem. This means the person is unhappier for longer. It may seem counter-intuitive, but there is a kindness to acting quickly.
*A players prefer to be around A players.
Hire Slowly. It's a great mantra for success.
Make the interview last longer. An hour is not enough. You will get to know more about them by setting them a live project. Give them a short deadline. See how they get on. It will tell you much more an interview* ever will.
Take it out of the office. Go for a run with them. Have a beer with them. See them as people. If you can’t spend time with them, do you really want to hire them?
Remember, a crazy amount of your management time will be spent on a wrong hire. A lot of your stress will come from having to deal with a wrong hire. So can you afford to spend more of your time on making the hiring process longer? Yup, I think so
Note: *Introverts don’t interview well, but can have the best ideas).
Your company is only as strong as the people that work in it. The people are only as strong the culture that exists within your company. And the purpose of your company, its reason to exist, will define the culture.
Teams build a business. But culture builds a team. So your culture is pretty important.
Culture is a funny thing to talk about. You can't see it. You can't feel it. But when it's not right, you can both see it and feel it. Culture is not a big thing. Just lots of small things.
Patagonia let their people go surfing when the surf is good. At my Hiut Denim Co, every pair of jeans is signed by the GrandMasters who made them: All artists sign their work. At Nike, it created a group called the Ekins. They know Nike backwards. Some even had a Tattoo to show they were part of the elite.
When you define your purpose, it attracts like-minded people as a moth is attracted to light. So define it well.
Your purpose will define your product. The culture of your company. The people you hire. Even your customers who buy from you. And ultimately it will define how successful you are. But perhaps the most important thing that your purpose gives everyone in the company is a clear understand of why the company exists. Everyone in the company understands what it is that you are going to change.
Change is your secret fuel. People want to be part of change. People want to be part of history. Teams gather around ideas that will change things.
That’s why your purpose matters. It builds teams who are passionate about the project. They are there to make a difference, not just to make a quick buck.
When a team is motivated, when a team understands the change it will make, even when the odds are stacked against it, it is hard thing to stop.
There are probably lots of people out there like you. So if you have a need that no one is meeting, you may not be alone. Designing and making for yourself as the target market is no bad thing. You know the research groups are going to be quick, free and honest. So you can iterate quickly to get something that works.
The next thing is try it on close friends. If your product solves a need for them too, well, you know at that point you are on to something.
Blogger, Twitter, Vitamin Water and a bunch more products came about by answering the needs of the founders.
Your need is a good one to answer. It is valid. It is your insight. And it is good to be its biggest user, and the main target market for a while. Then once you’re happy with it, go see the rest of the world thinks.
In a perfect world everybody will love what you make. They will say nice things, tell their friends, and write letters to say just how much they love you. (Those things can and will happen, by the way.)
The reverse is also true. No matter what you do, there will be someone out there who will hate what you do. It’s going to happen. So get used to it. And remember because you stand for something, there will be people out there who will stand against you. The more you represent a new way of doing things, the more some people will form a resistance to it.
Don’t take it personally. Think of it this way, if you did something bland, it would be neither loved or hated. And it would end up in the worst of all places: Where no one gives a hoot about your product. Indifference is the real enemy.
Some may think Amazon’s product are books and just about everything else, but maybe it is more than that. Books, plus all the other stuff, are what they sell. But its product is speed.
Speed of finding what you want. Speed of ordering. Speed of delivery. That speed and ease is what we remember even though we can’t remember what the last book we bought from them was. It’s the speed and the super easiness that keeps us coming back for more.
So really understanding what your product is, is important. But it may be different to what we think. Amazon don’t spend much time making better books. But they spend a bunch of time trying to get you a faster book. I read the other day that they are even considering delivering books by drones. They know it’s the last mile of the delivery where things tend to slow down. Of course, their kindle delivers a book even faster.