The first question people often ask me after looking at my startup’s team bios is “how did you do that?” By every law of logic, a company as small, new and as budget-constrained as mine should not have as many rockstars on our team and advisory board as we do. After being asked the question so often, I’ve finally come up with an a few pieces of advice for others trying to build a world-class team on a shoestring budget.

1. Start with their ambitions.

It takes an incredible amount of money to make a very smart, ambitious person drop everything they’re doing to help you realize your dream. If you’re a startup, you will never win at this game because you simply don’t have an incredible amount of money. Instead, find ways that your dream can become a shared dream.

Find ways that your dream can become a shared dream. Tweet This Quote

For me, that was where my dream from Peace Corps of helping women in West Africa through moringa—a local tree with highly nutritious leaves—met my co-founders dream of finally creating her own food product after years of consumer packaged good consulting. For another co-founder it was a chance to test out his dream of connecting people across continents using technology to tell compelling stories. You’ll get incredible people on your team if you can show them where their personal ambitions meet the company’s ambitions.

2. Get the right jugglers wearing the right hats.

In startups there are a lot of moving balls and everyone has to wear many different hats. The key is to delineate those hats and balls as clearly as possible from the start so that you play to people’s strengths.

I’m a big-picture person, most CEOs are. I’m great at putting together a high-level strategy but less good at filling in the minutia. One of my co-founders excels at operations but has a hard time forecasting the future. By recognizing this, we are able to put together cohesive plans while both playing to our strengths. This isn’t always easy; doing this properly requires everyone to admit his or her weaknesses. I’ve tried to take the lead on this by often pointing out where my own weaknesses and building a culture of professional vulnerability.

We debate because we all want to build an amazing, enduring company and want to get to the best solution for creating that. Tweet This Quote

3. Encourage debate.

After a company retreat, a new team member remarked how interesting it was to see the four members of our management team engage in heated debate one minute and happily eat dinner together the next.

Sometimes we joke that we fight like young siblings, ferociously but with the understanding, that at the end of the debate we’ll still want to play together. Though the debates can be tiresome, I wouldn’t want it any other way. We debate because we all want to build an amazing, enduring company and want to get to the best solution for creating that.

There is nothing worse than feeling like no one is recognizing your hard work. Tweet This Quote

4. Create a culture of gratitude.

There is nothing worse than feeling like no one is recognizing your hard work. Fortune 500 companies recognize hard work with large bonuses; cash-strapped startups recognize it through public praise. At Kuli Kuli, we take this idea to heart by starting our meetings off with “recognitions” where each person goes around the table saying a quick word about what they’re grateful for about each person present. At our company retreats, we do a lengthier version of this, which we call a “gratitude potluck” where we each speak for a few minutes about why we’re grateful to have each person in the room.

5. Never forget your “why”.

At Kuli Kuli, our vision is to enable everyone to have access to nutritious sources of food like moringa. We often mention our vision when making company decisions. This helps us stay true to our brand while also reminding ourselves why we started doing this work in the first place.

What is the best tip you’ve seen in team building? Tweet This Quote

At some point I hope that I will be able compensate every single person on my team with large salaries and bonuses. But even when that day comes, I still intend to live by these guidelines to create a successful, hardworking team that is excited to come into work every day. I’d love to hear from you all—what is the best tip you’ve seen in team building?

About the author

Lisa Curtis

Lisa Curtis

Lisa Curtis is founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, a mission-driven food startup selling delicious products made with moringa. Lisa founded Kuli Kuli after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa. She was the Communications Director at Mosaic, wrote political briefings for President Obama in the White House, and worked at an impact investment firm in India.

  • Mallory Benham

    These are great instructions to follow. Find that main goal or objective that will drive your company and ALL of its employees!

  • kgallaher

    My favorite part of the article was step four, creating a culture of gratitude. Culture is so very important in business. I really liked the idea of everyone going around and saying something positive about each other. I think we often take work ethic for granted, but it’s important to encourage others and have positive reinforcement. I like the idea of everyone being recognized for hard work, and I think recognition is really motivating in the work place.

  • sadeakindele

    I agree, recognition and gratitude are great ways to keep people motivated and working towards their goals. These are great ideas to incorporate into any group or company to make it the best environment possible.

  • danphaw

    I’d like to see a follow up to this article in year or two to see how this pans out.

  • storres001

    It is so important that people are passionate about what they’re doing. Not only can you hire people in start ups, but also because it makes it easier to have high work performance. I really like how these people all had different ambitions that could come together for a successful start up with a common goal.

  • nbaker3

    I loved this article. The most satisfying way to build a business, it seems, is to allow for each person to reach their full potential rather than confining them to positions with rote work. People are not machines.

  • Matthew Montoya

    This article makes great points in terms of capitalizing on necessary components of an effective team! I am also interested in hearing a little bit more about how to find the specific team members. This article talked a lot about how to utilize the team in place and balance out the variety of skills and dreams of each member, however what does the search for these members consist of? Are they people known prior to team development? Are they recruited? Are there resources available to assist in finding qualified team members? Overall, this was an excellent article, I am just curious about the initial selection/development of the team.

  • Wilson Mugabo

    This article is great, especially when it comes to specialization of man power. And I would like to see where the idea spreads in the future

  • Erin Todd

    I really like this article! It is empowering and true. It is hard to keep working hard and pursuing a dream when no one recognizes it. I believe that when we feel that way we remember that the dream and work benefits us directly, everything else is just a bonus. With any team, it starts with an individual dream and builds to create a team joint effort.

  • kt_ford

    I agree! I think that these are great instructions to follow. It is really hard to keep pushing and pursuing a dream, but when you have a team with the same amount of passion it becomes a team effort and makes it a lot easier to pursue.

  • Jeremy Rhone

    These are important points to remember in assembling your team. If you don’t bring people on board that can share your vision, then all you have is employees. The right team can carry one another when need be, and this can really show in the success of a business.

  • Lisa, I really appreciated this post. It’s something we take seriously at Unreasonable a well. In fact, you have inspired me to right a post about our approach to team, culture, and communication at Unreasonable Group… I’ll do my best to get it written in the next few weeks. For now though, I wanted to simply say “thank you”

  • Jack Strader

    I LOVED the line, ” building a culture of professional vulnerability” I just think that speaks for itself and is such a powerful connection between people and I’ve never heard it phrased so well. I’m a huge fan of strong company culture and I think that’s a great way to start. The best tip that I’ve heard for team building was keeping a diverse group of people and allowing everyone to speak freely without others’ judgements.

  • erinleigh28

    “This isn’t always easy; doing this properly requires everyone to admit his or her weaknesses.” This is a great point! So many people try so hard to prove themselves that they are afraid to show weakness, when in reality, it takes a strong person to admit they are weak in areas.

  • erinleigh28

    You are so right! There isn’t much fulfillment or success when treating people like robots.

  • Katie Larson

    I hope to work in an environment like the one outlined above when I enter the professional world. I enjoyed the message of the last paragraph, that when Kuli Kuli moves from a start-up to a competitive and successful business they will not sacrifice the values on which their business was founded.

  • karnold001

    As a student athlete I really connected with this article because it stresses the importance of working together. It is impossible to win a game if you do not work together with your teammates, as it is impossible for a start-up to become successful if you try to do everything on your own. Each person on the team brings something different to the table and it creates a special kind of atmosphere

  • l2yza

    You’re definitely on the right track. Praise and Compensation are a key difference maker in keeping people motivated. The lack of both of them is why I quit working for my most recent employer. However, it is different when you all know higher compensation just isn’t a possibility at the moment; this is when praise and visions are needed.
    For anyone who found this article interesting, I highly recommend the book “EntreLeadership.” These are roughly the same guidelines this book goes over.

  • James Callahan

    Being able to debate, especially heatedly, and not take any lasting resentment is a great environment to have in your business. Too often people either don’t say anything for fear of conflict or they just bulldoze others to get their way. Healthy debate without judgement or resentment is an essential element to a startup.

  • JuanFonseca1995

    This article brought many interesting points on how you can build a stronger cohesive unit with a shoe-string budget. There must be a vision and you must look at the attributes that each team member can bring into the mix. Pick the right people for the right positions and you will have a highly productive team. Each team member must voice their opinion, therefore there should be debates constantly. Communication should be consistent, uplifting, and motivating the team to do better. You should surround yourself with teammates that will under promise and over perform as oppose to overpromise and underperform. Your positive attitude and the way you carry yourself throughout the project will be contagious; because your team will either be positive or negative while working on the project. Overall you should be with people that aspire to excel in life!

  • Teresa Joyce

    Good article, loved how it stresses teamwork. I always told my team we wouldn’t be where we were without each of them. I was always grateful, let them have their ideas, feel like they owned something too. They felt better about where they worked and what they did if they had that sense of ownership.

  • @disqus_XNtxVmnDAf:disqus , thank you so much for sharing your lessons & insights. As part of an unreasonably 😉 rad startup team with beyond badass scrappy comrades, I very much emphasize & appreciate the lessons you shared in this article (especially #5).

    I wanted to share some of what I would (humbly) consider my top team building tips from the perspective of a a startup team member and what has really made me feel most synced with my team. For me, the more I feel I know & understand my colleagues and authentically connect with them in a way that converges not only our work but our values and characteristics as humans, the better I feel I can communicate, support & in general, work better with them. Which brings me to 2 resources…

    1. Have you heard of the Strengths Finder inventory & strengths based leadership? This was given to me by a former boss, but recently found it to be a game-changing tool to connect with a colleague and understand them better than ever. [Singularity’s team uses this as well as a culture best practice]. You touch on this via our #2 point – but I think there is a compelling importance for having the surveys of greatest strengths of fellow comrades from a 3rd party, objective tool brings an entire new element to the table that provides insights on teammates that isn’t subject to basic human nature error. That said, I think this tool is crucial for team building only if used in a way that is insightful + not defining (i.e. your 5 strengths do not = who you are, but provide a standardized method to compare the motivations & mentality of a team across the board).

    2. The culture at my work (shout out @daniel_epstein:disqus) has gone a long way to bring habits & practices that consistently build, support & make our team stronger via our work systems. For instance, we structure weekly meetings in ways that encourage empathy, gratitude/recognition & opportunities to communicate tensions that are roadblocks to building teams. Our meetings start with a moment of silence broken by a teammate sharing how their day going & how they feel – our meetings are initiated with reflection on yourself & knowledge of what your comrades are currently facing in life. Empathy. These meetings also provide a space for sharing your points of gratitude for your team as well as creating a safe space to share “points of tension” defined as the difference between “what is” and “what could be”. Again, I think you touch on the imperative of these values when building a team – empathy, gratitude, transparency & ability to voice your opinion – but the ability to integrate these into to consistent, productive systems & work best practices (like weekly meetings) goes one step further.

    Most of all for me, I think world-class teams inspire one another and form in the image of being part of a team led by a visionary (again shoutout @Daniel Epstein) who leads by doing, lives the values the company stands for and truly appreciates & seeks to create a thriving team (like you do as well @Lisa Curtis =) is most important of all.

    Cannot thank you enough for sharing your brilliance, Lisa!

  • Tiffanie Marszalek

    Fabulous! These core values resonate deeply with me in my current role. Thanks for the post stressing how to be a positive leader.

    The best tip I could give is to always “Lead with Love.” By helping partners realize their true potentials, coaching valuable feedback, and doing your best to support their learning you are helping their development, we are living by this principle.

  • Arnthor Kristinsson

    Great article that will definitely be very useful for the future me. I believe all the points are important and relate to each other. Thank you very helpful

  • Nlund1

    This was a great piece to help small businesses find the right people

  • mleano

    I like the positivity of the 5 items. In a Ted Talk with Shawn Achor, he said that we place happiness on the other side of success so happiness is always at the end of our cognitive horizon. With the author’s positive views, it seems as if she incorporates positivity and happiness in to her work style which make for a better work environment and productivity.

  • John Mulhern

    This article was very interesting perspective of a new small business. Being able to discuss and argue effectively and efficiently can be very vital to a company success especially in its start up phase.

  • january26throwaway

    Oh what a load of crap this is. I bet you’re all wearing Tom’s, hocking superfood to yuppies and somehow claiming to help poor african women? What?

    That is just repackaged generic advice from a repackaged generic yuppie health supplement scheme with a very frail claim to be somehow helping Nigerians, without explaining exactly how that goes.

    I see a board consisting of a software engineer, packaging and marketing designer, and CEO.
    I see advisers that are a handful of wealthy and bored Stanford and Berkeley alumni.

    I see yet another version of some exotic plant with unproven health claims that will be sold as supplements to white people and hocked by Dr. Oz on television until they get sued, change the name, and shift to satellite radio ads on the XM trucker stations.

    But what really concerns me:
    I don’t see one, single, Nigerian female (that this company claims to be so concerned with) anywhere. Not on a board, not an adviser, nothing. Just some pictures of them and those magic leaves. Enough to get the exotic vibe, but without the associated western guilt. The point is to sell leaves, after all.

    Anytime I see words like “dream of connecting people across continents using technology to tell compelling stories” instead of what that really means (starting a blog) it makes my skin crawl.

  • january26throwaway

    I highly doubt that is real. Those are the words of someone who thinks everyone likes them all the time, regardless of reality. No business can operate that way for very long. There aren’t nearly as many ways to skin cats as Ted talks would have you believe.

  • Bryan Parrish

    This was not necessary…

    Sharing one’s thoughts and experiences should always be welcome, but to just lash out with no real way to improve what you and everyone else sees, is nothing more than a tantrum.

    The advice here is fairly general for a reason. It is impossible for anyone to give advice to everyone about everyone’s individual business needs. The author does a good job packaging and presenting the info in such a way that it is easy to understand.

    As for as not having one of the “locals” (as we called them in the military), sometimes you do not always need to incorporate a local to make the business work. Some would argue that bringing just locals into the fray is a way to play that “exotic vibe” in the hopes of increasing revenue through proving you have diversity is a low tactic and plays into the race-baiter’s logic of “equality.” As long as someone brings real value to the company, it should not matter where they are from. If you bring someone in for the sole reason to be “diverse” and that difference is based on the amount of melanin in one’s skin, your business will likely fail. In a business, one should be judged based on the content of their character and ethos, and not by the color of their skin or where they are from.

  • Halea McAteer

    Many of the items touched on in this article are things that could be applied even outside the setting of building up a team within a business. When it comes to getting people invested in helping out with an issue it is also crucial that the person feels some sort of relationship or connection to the problem at hand or else it becomes just another blurred event in the cluster of injustices that exist within the world today.

  • Will Carter

    Really? Because that happens all the time. If you can’t have a debate with someone while still respecting them as a person, you’re missing out on a very large chunk of, well, life experience. I’m interested to know what you mean by “no business can operate that way for very long.” I would suggest that without this kind of healthy, respect-based debate, a business is doomed to stagnation.

  • Garrett Nelson

    I like how you say “find ways that your dream can become a shared dream,” which seems relevant to so many things in todays world, specifically when working in a team setting. Playing to people’s strengths is also a huge one that I have experienced in the past when working with a team (ex. my high school basketball and football team). This is huge when it comes to being successful, because if you are playing towards weaknesses rather than strengths, sure maybe it will help team members improve those weaknesses, it would seem you are not striving for complete success. I think knowing your weaknesses and strengths is just as important as playing towards them, because if you do not know then how can you possibly attempt to use your strength? Lastly, I like that idea of always remembering WHY you are doing what you are doing. Remembering what the purpose of your work is plays a key role in keeping team happiness, developing chemistry with one another, and ultimately striving for success. To add to this, I would say providing an environment that is comfortable for the entire team is another important aspect to have when team building. Without this, it may be tough to keep a team together. Thanks for the post!

  • Garrett Nelson

    I agree, I believe the issues expressed within a team or group of people needs to be relevant to each individual otherwise what is the purpose of what you are doing? There isn’t one, or it might lead to a feeling of unimportance on the issue. What do you believe is the hardest part about building a team, or even a simple one-on-one relationship with someone?

  • clbradley2015

    A shared dream. For me, my husband and I had a shared dream or vision of what our life would be like. 25+ years together and it has been wonderful to share life together. Why wouldn’t it be any different in a business? Putting peoples best qualities and strengths together to realize your shared dream. I also like the comment on gratitude. Being grateful and expressing your gratitude can change your outlook on your day or life within a few days.

  • nsales

    For such basic tips on how to make a good class team, not many people tend to follow them. These tips are very positive and good for any business whether you’re just starting or on a big company already. The “why” aspect is important too, never forget your goals and motives.

  • kschwein

    This article is very similar to an earlier article about business and business buildup. Like the other article I believe this is a great way for small businesses to grow. These are great tips for businesses to follow and can be good assets for them in their future.

  • fkrutsky

    All these tips encourage strong communication skills which is extremely important to have when building a business and in every day life. Something I find is missing most of the time is gratitude and number four was the tip that I would usually miss the most. In a busy day, especially when putting together a small business, I can imagine finding the time to stop and appreciate everyone can be difficult. By setting aside a specific moment for this to take place is a great idea to make sure everyone is recognized and that no one ends up feeling like they have been taken for granted. These are all very good tips!

  • glmcguir

    Communication seems to be the key to success in most aspects of life and this article shows that businesses are no different. Lack of communication seems to be the source of many downfalls in our society today.

  • ChaiseSheldon

    I liked the simplicity of this post. I especially liked her part on making it a shared dream. The biggest thing that runs through most peoples’ heads at the start of a new opportunity is, “what is in this for me.” Being selfless is great but in a business sense it is not practical if it does not touch on something important to you. So I believe the way she was able to make her dream apply to so many other dreams is truly extraordinary.

  • Well stated and you portrayed exactly how we run our small business. I have worked at levels where my salary was not only my financial compensation but also my encouragement, praise, respect, etc. and was not sustainable to me. Currently I make less but can contribute more. That sounds counter intuitive; more work for less money? For me, I am receiving the correct compensation but changing lives with a true visionary. Meaningful work trumps outrageous salaries for me.

  • ali Alamri

    those points are great things to be considered

  • malopez93

    I think the strongest thing you brought up is, never forget your ‘why’. The why is what many large corporations loose sight of after they become extremely successful. It is important in a start up to never loose sight of that. It can be one of the most powerful motivators your company has no matter how big or small it is. The second idea i agree with is creating a culture of gratitude. At the end of the day we all just want to be appreciated. That is something I know a lot of companies throw to the side, because they either don’t have time or don’t think it is important. It can be one of the strongest motivations someone has to work harder, if they know that they will be shown gratitude for their work. As long as it is something that is within the companies boundaries it is good enough. Once you grow larger than a small start up then just saying words of affirmation may loose their affect due to the team members believing you could do more for them.

  • Shae Moyano

    i think it was a great article with some great points, there are a couple points that stood out to me the most, the first one was the why, because, it keep us on track of our vision and our brand, many people and companies lose this when they become very successful yet they forget how they got there in the first place, and also another thing for me is creating a culture of gratitude, this will create a stronger relationship with employees and will benefit both, the company and employees.

  • Shae Moyano

    yes they are, specially creating a culture of gratitude because the employee will feel part of a family that cares for them, they will work hard and care about the company as if it was theirs.

  • sking4air

    This are very important aspects of any business. For all teams and team members of all levels. Especially the lower level team members or employees. However, I do not see that these ideas help guide a methodology to bring in and retain high powered professionals with little compensation.

    I love the “heated discussions” segment. Yes, we are a family with a common goal and we have to remember the common goal and use our random thought processes mixed with others tearing it apart. Why, how and really look at the concept one individual may present to the team and then use synergy to spawn this into some great idea. I always say with my executive team I want random thoughts and ideas, not a well thought out business plan when it comes to strategic planning. The key reason is that I do not want the individual to think so deep about their idea on their own and figure that it is not a good direction for the company and keep it to them selves. I want the others to hear the idea and debate its usefulness. This usually leads to a whole new idea originating on that topic.

    I would say for a start up like this to bring other strong minded people into its vision they will need company ownership to achieve their ambitions.

    Great write up!

  • Carter

    Great article with great points. Being able to identify strengths and weakness and delegating the right set of hats to the right skill set just seems so intuitive, yet I’ve been around management that fail to recognize that they need to empower those around them within a team dynamic. I’m very theoretical/economic type of individual who is continuously searching for new ideas and methods to improve the work site; but I often have others on my team who just see it as overachieving and often I lose their focus until radicle moments gel us back together; otherwise I just power through and see to it myself. This article reminds me of book titled EntreLeadership (by Dave Ramsey), to see these points again just enforces me to try and get my team unified with the same vision.

  • Gaby Perez

    I loved this article! What really caught my attention was when she mentioned that a start up will not have all the money but if they become a shared dream then something incredible will happen. I think this is what happens with people who have shared meaning come together and create something incredible!

  • zoeantonow

    Great article. While I am still a student and have no experience working with a team in the professional field, I have worked in teams of all sizes and personalities in my educational career. The main trait that I have seen to be most successful is communication: about everything and anything. If anyone on the team is not informed or clear on a certain aspect of the plan or the function of a change being made, the cohesion is lost. For this reason, I feel as though effective communication is crucial in teams, for telepathy has yet to be proven. Internalizing an idea and not sharing it with the team members can be dangerous, leading to exclusion, emotions, tension, disorganization, and much more. Although all of your tips for an effective team sound very logical and effective, I feel as though communication needs to be stressed as vital in order to have cohesion and smoothness in the process.

  • JConklin805

    Good Article. I really like how you can get into heated debates with your team at work and still be friends afterwards. Certain companies that I have worked for were not this way… It became very personal during debates, which led to low productivity and bitter arguments throughout the company.

    Thank you for the helpful tips for improving my future teams.

  • Matt48085

    The shared dream is what will really drives a small company when assets are small. It is really truly amazing what can be accomplished when everyone shares the same view of success for the company.

  • Matt48085

    It’s funny how that’s the case! Communication seams to make all relationships healthier along with business ones.

  • Matt48085

    Making all the different personalities mix well is exactly what is needed for a small company to succeed. Not to mention it’s good for innovation when you have people with different views and backgrounds working together,

  • JakeEllis7

    I’m currently in the process of a Start-up myself, and your tips are very good. I see the pros of all of them and I will most certainly put them to use with my team and business. Thank you!

  • This is a great article because the tips could be used in more aspects then just in a start a company or business in general. I think these tips would be helpful in good team building for sports as well, or any team environment and the better the team the better the results. I think it covered the most important aspects of being in a team, which to me are compromise, being able to accept one another’s ideas and build upon them together. The other is everyone understanding their role and doing it with out question for the benefit of the team.

  • wschutt

    This is a phenomenal read! As new start-up ideas have been flowing through my head, I have often questioned what would make for a more successful start-up in regards to those that I want on my team. I enjoy tip #3 “Encourage Debate” because it is one, in particular, that makes me nervous (I don’t like to debate at times).

    My favorite tip here is #1 “Start with Their Ambitions” because the team that leads an organization has to be passionate about it. Without passion, leaders are not as successful, and bringing in their own skills and ambitions are going to create the best environment for success. As well, these tips are resourceful for both established organizations and for start-ups.

  • Thomas Tessier

    This was a good read. Working with some non-profit organizations and making drafting teams now.

  • I enjoyed this article! It’s always difficult to find employees whose passion matches the entrepreneur’s. These are great tips to keep as top of mind when hiring. Creating a shared dream is a really interesting concept, and difficult to pull off without good employee relationships. Selflessness in business is not something I’m familiar with as I work for a large corporation, but it’s inspiring to hear that it’s possible.

  • chadvallen

    This post was right on point with how to create a successful team. I believe ambition is the drive to a great team, and I like how it was illustrated first in the article. Overall, hiring new employees is a process that should not be taken lightly, and should always be something an employer puts a lot of thought into.

  • Eric Strimple

    This article was very well put together and thought out. Getting people to play into their passion and drive to achieve results is a great way to run a team.

  • rped

    I thought the article was excellent as discussing and pinpointing the most crucial items when finding a great team on a shoestring budget. I thought the tip on finding individuals who are grateful was right on. When you develop a team, especially a team culture, you need to have individuals who share your vision and common goals. When a culture of debate is fostered, you can gain access to many opinions and ideas and talents, where a closed type of group could not produce. I thought the article was excellent in terms of the grass root checklist when creating and developing a 5 star team on a shoestring budget.

  • karl coffield

    I agree selflessness is a hard thing to find. As a disruptive entrepreneur i am taking things that people call me crazy will never work and putting them together to create a productive unit. I have never seen this what a great job. I would hope that your fellow workers in a start-up are helping you lock those things in place and fighting you tooth and nail to make sure they are the right pieces. This banter is recognition enough, it means people at least listen to my idea and was able to see it for what it is, i project in the works.

  • tinkers4

    Great Read and things to look for in a team. I think its important we don’t lose site of the things that are important when building a team when building on a budget. Great Suggestions

  • tinkers4

    Lead with love is great tip to give, I think people tend to forget that sometimes when getting caught up in the hustle.

  • Persophine Reid Tiapula

    I think the important part was making sure the company still remembers why they started in the first place and make sure they always keep that reason. and also love the idea of employee and employer having the same mind and passion about their work. it is always much more efficient and fun when people are on the same page.

  • spitfireneil

    I totally agree with you on all points! I recently finished reading Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey and he has a lot of points very similar to this article that he brings up. I would recommend you read it if you liked this article.

  • Alex_C_B

    “Find ways that your dream can become a shared dream” stuck with me. Just starting out, I would want partners who have the same tenacity and passion for the dream as me. I wouldn’t want just another employee who is working for money.

    And others are mentioning David Ramsey. I also feel like this article and David Ramsey have a lot in common in regard to building a team.

  • THalter9

    A part of this article that I found interesting was the first point. The idea of giving someone an incentive to help you with a project without the incentive of money is very difficult. And as you said in the article, a lot of smaller businesses do not have the money to provide for a great team, so they need to find a different way to get the job done.

  • mpierson19

    I agree with the tip of creating debate. I believe when debates take place within the workplace, new ideas come from them. If someone argues someone else’s point or idea, everybody can spit ball off of each other and create a bigger and better idea.

  • Amy Rink

    Thank you for posting this article! I really liked how you suggested making a dream become a shared dream. Having a team of people with the same views makes for a bigger impact in the end! By incorporating all different ideas will ultimately lead to something something bigger and better.

  • AndreaOlsen22

    Making your dream a shared dream is key in this world. If your dream is also other people’s dream, they are going to be interested in your idea/s right from the start. They will want to contribute, which can only make the project more successful. The more people involved, the more ideas that can be produced. When everyone has the same overall goal, putting numerous brains together can create a wonderful thing. Encouraging debate is crucial because different sides to certain factors will emerge. Now, people can think about the factors from a different perspective and come to the best conclusion.

  • Mabel

    Never forgetting why you are doing something is so important. To me in means what is driving you and will keep you going when things get difficult. Losing sight of what drives you, in my opinion results in failure.

  • mdraymore

    One of my favorite guidelines is surround yourself with people that will tell you the truth; which is very similar to your #3 encouraging debate. It is important to have people to tell you when something is wrong, and you want debate so you don’t just settle for mediocre ideas. I also really like #2; in my first year of college professors emphasized working with each others strengths & weaknesses to work most efficiently and successfully. Also, i really like how you talk about weaknesses; which seems to be sort of culturally taboo in America, but its an extremely effective form of individual and team building. I really enjoyed reading your 5 tips.

  • I think it really depends what you’re looking for—a cofounder, a specific set of skills, etc—but here are a couple ideas:
    If you’re in a startup looking for a cofounder or someone to help get things moving, something like CoFounders Lab might be a good place to start. Some of my friends and I joke though that we’re constantly on the hunt for talents because sometimes it’s rare that you find someone who not only is highly talented or has developed a really sharp set of skills, but also shares your vision and values. The best way to find these people, from what I’ve seen, is to look at your friends and immediate network. For example, we throw happy hours with other startup founders and friends who might be interested in getting involved. I also run a book club and try to find informal ways to get people together. I love being friends with the people I work with because my loyalty and love for them makes so that I never want to fail them—rather push them to be better people too and have aton of fun while doing it. So I always look in my close network for references.

    ReWork might be a good place to look for people who are motivated by more than just money (and @nathanielkoloc:disqus is an Unreasonable too). There are also things like oDesk or Elance.

  • Matthew Montoya

    Thank you so much for your feedback! I will definitely check out these sources!

  • Tawni Meyer

    I think these are all excellent points made and are extremely important to remember!

  • Dena Keizer

    Thanks for posting. I like that you said to never forget your “why”. It is important to never forget why you started something and why it is important to you. Not only does this apply to the boss/owner but it should to apply to everyone in the business.

  • conner_faulkner

    Also one must not forget to include everyone in decisions, etc. Everyone should feel like they are apart of the whole.

  • epmcinty

    I really love this article for it’s validity and remarkable tips. It is true when people say you are only as strong as your team. If you want to have a successful startup and a successful team, you need a successful set of guidelines like present above. All of these are great pointers, however, one of my favorites was creating a culture of gratitude (number 4). No matter where you work these days, you always feel under appreciated, even in a position of management. A lot of times your work goes unnoticed. if you have a passionate team you built where everyone feels akin and that they are in this together, the outcome is going to be outstanding. Having each person compliment each other and say why they appreciate them being on the team and what they contribute only brings people closer together. Never forget the hard work your peers put into things to help make you guys the successful team you are.

  • january26throwaway

    “As long as someone brings real value to the company, it should not matter where they are from.”
    By that very same logic, we can conclude that there are no native people on the board because they do not have any real value to the company yeah?

  • january26throwaway

    That the “first thing” people ask is how the company got a group of self important C-list harvard and berkley alumns on the “advisory board”? It’s just name dropping. If the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation was on there, or Amnesty or UNESCO, that’d be some endorsements. But some bored millionaires? Nobody asks about that.

  • Faisal AH

    I really enjoy reading this article. and all the five tips are important in our life.

  • 204Ted

    When people are all motivated and on the same page you get the added bonus of looking forward to going to work and interacting with your co-workers. Chances are if you all like your jobs then you are all motivated to keep working harder to make things better and more efficient.

  • “we take this idea to heart by starting our meetings off with “recognitions” where each person goes around the table saying a quick word about what they’re grateful for about each person present.”
    This is something we did with our kids when they were young. I never thought to applying that to business in this way.

    “At our company retreats, we do a lengthier version of this, which we call a “gratitude potluck” where we each speak for a few minutes about why we’re grateful to have each person in the room.”
    This is something I have witnessed at certain Native American ceremonies I attend. Only in the tipi it is referred to as “From the doorway in to the doorway out” as a way of recognizing everyone around the circle in a similar way.

  • Bryan Parrish

    You are still using “race baiter” logic. You are trying to find reasons why someone’s race matters in a company.

    The fact that the author of the article does not plainly state that she does or does not employ someone of that ethnicity in her company does not prove there is no one on her board from that country. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. We just do not know.

    My statement is that someone should ONLY be considered based on their character and ethos.

  • Like starting a band or group on the side of a day-to-day gig, there have been a couple side projects that play into common interests of friends that, when the side project gets traction, they already understand the mission, have interest in it, know where they fit in, and have ownership of it. It kinda plays into #1, except maybe you’re selling people less on the idea because it’s more co-created. It also happens inside larger companies—in the intrapreneurship realm.

  • AmandaRashkin

    I think this article describes some very essential and insightful ingredients for creating a productive and loyal work culture (and I especially agree with tip numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5). While I do agree with this article on the whole, I think there are some additional ingredients that could be included. For example, tip number 3 encourages debate, however it doesn’t mention the value or the impact of that debate. I thoroughly agree that debate is important, but I also think it would be valuable if an organization took debate a step further and actively considered ideas and suggestions (being debated about) from employees at all levels. I acknowledge that it can be a dangerous road to have “too many cooks in the kitchen” with so many suggestions potentially derailing forward momentum. That being said, I still believe an organization has the most potential to grow and develop when all employees have an opportunity to meaningfully challenge and ultimately improve-upon the process of their organization. Furthermore, this opportunity to effect positive change can increase employees’ personal investment in their organization. Lastly, I believe work-life balance is another important ingredient for a successful organization that should be included among this article’s tips. Especially when organizations work on a shoe-string budget, I believe employees feel a greater sense of compensation and appreciation (and will probably be less likely to burn-out) if they feel their time away from work is being respected and valued. While my response to this article is by no means a comprehensive list of every valuable employer-practice that I believe in (just as this article was surely not meant to be an all-encompassing list of tips), I found it important to mention my additional tips above because they strike me as invaluable to a successful organization.

  • GSonDUBS

    Awesome tips. I am in the process of “finding my team” for my startup. I can totally relate to finding people that are willing to join my team. I will try to follow her advice and see what happens! Thank you for sharing.

  • Ryan

    “I’ve tried to take the lead on this by… building a culture of professional vulnerability.”

    I agree with this approach wholeheartedly, as it allows for greater transparency amongst colleagues, an important aspect of truly understanding and respecting each others’ opinions and abilities while still maintaining a shared goal. That transparency can then be extended outward to the public, which is part of what can make a good startup a great startup in the eyes of the community.

    Whereas my dream ultimately involves partnering and working with some of my family, I feel as though our strengths and weaknesses have largely already been identified, but was curious if you had experience working with family or close friends and could offer any insight on that front or any particular difficulties that may arise from it.

  • Let us know what works!

  • Amy Rink

    I also really liked that quote, “making your dream a shared dream” By impacting others to share the same as you will make it that much better when it becomes achieved! Not only that but by having more people by your side it will make more fun and better efficiency!

  • Lindsey Kessler

    It’s the American way to strive for perfection, and I love that your business embraces the ideas of “professional vulnerability” in order to collaborate and strengthen your business and your work. That is a much better business approach than always striving for perfection and always looking for the next biggest thing to perfect.

  • catec18

    I think these tips are great for forming a great team! I especially like number 4. Something I have done on work teams is something that doesn’t really have a name. You put your name on a big piece of paper and pass it around the circle of employees. Each person takes a minute or two to write something encouraging for the person who’s name is on the paper. I like to hang these in my room or office to remind myself when times in the team get rough what I have done in the past to help keep the team together. One thing I don’t understand from the article is the debate point. Yes, I think disagreement is positive for making sure the company’s best foot is put forward, but how? How do you go from debating to happily sharing a meal together? That’s something I didn’t understand from the article. I am not very confrontational, so I think it would be helpful to know how to argue correctly.

  • Tony Bothwell

    What’s funny is that I immediately had mental image of Leonardo Di Caprio planting the inception of my idea in other people’s heads. In a sense I suppose it is a potentially viable option assuming you’ve found someone that is otherwise a fantastic fit in every way. Planting the idea in his or her mind, letting it grow on its own. In fact now that I’m thinking about it, shared dream aside it almost seems like you’d want to leverage something along those same lines to create an enforce a shared subjective reality, especially for a team that could potentially be all remote workers.

  • Tony Bothwell

    As someone who is aspiring to create my own venture, what I’m struggling with is time more than anything. But also now that I have a 3 year old (possibly another one coming), the brashness of action that I once had the luxury of, has since been replaced with a more refined methodical approach. But that said, not all new startups require pulling up stakes right away, but most certainly at some point.

    BTTT these all seem like sound ideas, but (and this is likely a personality thing speaking here) I can’t afford to make risky or reckless decisions when others are counting on me. As much as I might share someone’s dream to save the pufferfish, it would be pretty irresponsible for me to quit my day job to work for someone who says that he “hopes” to one day be able to compensate his team.

  • Chelsea Haffele

    I would be interested in knowing what works as well. It’s hard to start up a business and to find people who are truly there to help you rather than to take advantage of you.

  • maxfunny

    I saw your comment and was wondering if you had any success. I would bet you are at least doing better then if you did not read this article. Did anything really standout that helped you. Or did you not have any luck.

  • GSonDUBS

    So here’s what I have so far….. While I was looking for team members, I actually found and made friends with many experts who became my mentors. They help and guide me thru any questions or challenges that I come across. They are giving me connections to MORE experts. Since they are experts in their field, they all have their own businesses, so they won’t be “on my team”.

    One important thing that I have found when looking for team members (or mentors) Not only you have to share with them your dream, vision, and ideas for their buy in, that is NOT ENOUGH!!! You Have To Have Something To Show For!!! You have to show them what you have established ON YOUR OWN. Action speaks louder than words.

    If you don’t know how to program and need a computer programmer, start learning how to program. You need someone to help you with AutoCAD, start learning! You need a machinist, so start learning how to do machining. Why is that you might ask?? Because guess who will be the teacher that is teaching these classes? 🙂 Even if they don’t want to be on your team, they most likely have friends that might be interested and now you have a connection to them.

    I have two team members are now on my team, it took me about 3 months to get their buy in. They liked the idea from the beginning, but they sat back and watched me all this time, took me over 3 months to show them how serious I was.

    They saw me working on my venture DAILY, most times until 4-5 am and I get up for work or school by 9 am. (I work part time, taking 6 classes at Arizona State University and 2 dogs to take care of.) They saw me meeting and making connections with new people weekly, more importantly, becoming friends with them. They saw me driving out of state just to have meetings with these experts that I track down.

    ***Side note: I will be flying out across country for few days next month to have a meeting with an expert that I tracked down.***

    All these meetings that I have been doing are not with investors. Every one of these meetings are with top experts and business owners (up to $25 million businesses) that are in my field. You will be shocked how friendly and willing these people are to teach and help you. The only challenge is to TRACK THEM DOWN, emails and phone calls are usually filtered by their assistants.

    So my best advice to you is…. What can you show me that you have done for your venture?

  • GSonDUBS

    Can you give me an example of people “taking advantage” of you?

  • Travis Mattice

    Great article, thanks for sharing. Your main points are definitely important and should be considered. I wonder how many people who haven’t read this article already follow them?

  • kolinjk29

    I really like the idea that you should encourage debate. This quality is so important when your starting up a business because it allows people to throw out multiple ideas rather than just one person calling the shots. This takes pressure off of management as well because it will allow employees to debate what would be best for the company. Its always nice to give your employees a voice. It will make them a much happier employee in the workplace. Teamwork is a great way to build a successful business from the ground up. Thanks for posting.

  • kolinjk29

    I totally agree with you on your post. Its always nice when you get along with all your co workers at work. It makes going into work a whole lot more enjoyable and the motivation to strive for more for the company.

  • maxfunny

    Man that sounds like you really worked for every member. It’s also nice to see that there are successful people out there who really do want tp help the startups. When you talk with the multi million dollar companies do they except something back for there time or is it free help.

  • GSonDUBS

    So far, the ones that are helping are all completely free and they are the kind of people who you ask them what time it is, they would teach you how to make a watch. But I warn you, the hardest part is to track them down.

  • maxfunny

    Awesome to know that. Did you try and track them down over phone calls or did you go to there actual business to really try a get a face to face. I feel like it would be easier to do it digitally but better if you can get them to actually have that face to face. Is there a better way or a better attack plan?

  • GSonDUBS

    I email and call first, then I track them down face to face. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, don’t feel bad if they don’t care for you. If they are jerks, you wouldnt want to work with them anyways. Plenty more mentors that cares/worth working with.

  • maxfunny

    Thank you for all the great advices I will defiantly keep these tidbits up in my head and use them accordingly.

  • GSonDUBS

    Good luck bud. The more time you spend in your venture, the farther you will be, so spend as much time as you can on it. A person who spends 80 hours a week on his project is going to be twice as fast to his goal than a person who only spends 40. Simple math.

    Also remember this, ‘Luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity. I got lucky a few times, while i was working on my protype, ran into some random people and they asked me what I was doing and now they are part of my mentors. People are watching without you knowing and you can’t be more prepare than while working on your project.

    If you work on your project/venture all the time = you are parpare all the time.

  • Nathan Tessar

    I think encouraging a debate is key especially if you don’t have enough money to bring in a ton of people. Getting everyone’s ideas and building off of that to make a company can really help in the long run. I also, enjoyed how Lisa said that your dream needs to be a shared dream. Everyone needs to be on board to make something successful eventually and making sure that team loves the product or products just as much as you do.

  • maxfunny

    Point taken

  • Leah Renee

    great advice! i love all of these thank you for sharing! finding a great team is all about connecting with them.

  • Tyler Hebert

    Out of these 5 tips my favorite tip is number 3. Encourage Debate. Debating with a bunch of people is awesome because everyone is bring their argument to the table and all their ideas and knowledge. You always learn so much and are sometimes even proven wrong. In a debate people will share what they know and learn what every one else knows and then hopefully come to final decisions.