Building an effective startup team
Startups operate in an environment marked by high uncertainty and have very few established norms and procedures to guide their actions. Therefore, to succeed they need not just a strong and visionary entrepreneur/leader, but also an effective supporting team. Members of these startup teams must be able to multitask, learn quickly, make strategic decisions, manage operations, look for customers, fix problems, and pivot when necessary. Choosing the right people to join the team is essential, but what should leaders look for, apart from what is mentioned on their resumes? This study examines the structure of startup teams to: (1) determine which roles are necessary to build a startup team; (2) find the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed in team members to ensure a higher probability of the startup’s survival; and (3) identify team-related competencies essential to ensure team effectiveness in its early stages. This qualitative study presents the findings collated from interviews with members of startups in Thailand to obtain a better understanding about selecting an effective team. The findings indicate that: (1) to establish a startup, the only crucial roles in the team are the founder and developer; (2) the team members do not necessarily require extensive knowledge about, or expertise in, the field of business they have entered; however, they need to have adequate skills and abilities to complete the tasks at hand on time, collaborate persistently, and show enough resilience, when facing challenges or blockades, to move forward or change strategy; and (3) for the team to function effectively, the team (especially the founder and developer) must collectively have all of the team-related competencies – collaborative problem solving, conflict resolution, communication, goal setting and performance management, and planning and task coordination; and if the team lacks a particular competency, another member or cofounder with this competency strength should be invited to join the team to fill in the gap, and thus, creating an effective startup team.
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