Building a Team

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Producer vs Entrepreneur Series – Part 3

Building a team and hiring the right people to make up your team. I’d argue that this will be the most important stage for any Producer and Entrepreneur.

Film Producers need to build a film project’s team with a director, writer, cinematographer, actors, and other film production crew who will all come together to make a film.

Entrepreneurs need to hire people who specialize in different areas, whether it’s technology, operations, finances, marketing, sales, or distribution.

Can one person do all the necessary tasks? Errrr.

Can one person do all the necessary tasks successfully? No.

No one can do ‘everything’ themselves and be successful. Your goal may not be one that requires a big team, but no goal can be completed by one person either.

Now that we’ve established you need a team, how do you go about building your team?

1. Roles

Whether you’re the Producer or the Entrepreneur, you are the Leader. As the Leader of the project, you need to figure out what roles are needed for your project to successfully reach the goals. Not all projects are made the same, so you want to hire people who are the best for your project.

For a comedy film project, I’d look for comedic writers and directors. My first instinct wouldn’t be to go after creative talents who have only worked in horror. I’d look for talents who have successfully made comedic films.

If I was looking to build a startup that offered an online financial service platform, I’d look to hire the best software engineers and financial engineers I could. I’d need people who can help navigate the financial landscape to ensure we’re meeting all the strict government regulations. And because the platform would be handling customers’ financials, great software engineers who can provide software stability and security are of the utmost importance.

Think about what your product is and who you need to execute on that product successful. You also need to think about your role and what you bring to the table. The roles you’re weak in, that’s where you want to hire. You should always be looking for people you are better than you.

2. Find Candidates

Now that you’ve identified the people you need to fill your team, you need to go find candidates who could fill those positions. Where do you go to find candidates though?

There are many options when it comes to looking for potential candidates. Don’t think that you can just post a job positing and the perfect candidate will fall in your lap. It takes time and talking to the right person.

  • Think about the people you’ve worked with in the past. Does anyone fit the roles you need?
  • Ask your friends and family if they know anyone who can fit the roles.
  • Go on social media like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn to find potential candidates. Post on social media you’re looking for people to fill certain roles. Also search for people who’re talking about what you’re doing.
  • Any local meetups for the industry you’re in? Go out there and meet people.
  • Post on job sites of course. See where the candidates in your industry usually go and post job descriptions.
  • If you only need a freelancer, there’re many freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Look at portfolios and look for talents to fill those roles.
  • Another place that can be very effective is to look at competitors. For Producers, that’s looking at past film projects. For Entrepreneurs, that’s looking at competitors and seeing who’s in the role you’re looking to fill. While that person may be happy, I’d bet you he knows who can fill your open role.

3. Recruit Candidates

After you find the right person for the team, your job is now to recruit them onto your team. Recruiting is the phase where you’re wooing the candidate, but where you’re also making your final assessments that this is the right person.

At this point, you already know that this person’s skills are what you need, so this is more of a personality fit with you. You want the candidate to know that they’re special and wanted. You’ll need to pitch your project and tell them that working on your project with you will be fun, beneficial to them and result in success.

The key is to close the deal and get them to sign on. You’ll wine and dine them, all the while seeing if you’ll be able to work closely together every day. You also need to pitch yourself to them, talking about why you’ll be a great leader and partner in the endeavor. They need to believe in you. Believe that you’ll be in this for the long haul and do what’s needed to succeed. Show your passion here. Show that you’re all-in, but more importantly, why you’re all-in.

Your soft skills are on full display during this stage.

After they’re on the hook, next is to start talking about contract numbers and benefits.

4. Hire Candidates

Where recruiting shows off your soft skills of closing a candidate, the hiring phase is about the numbers and words – even if you’re not funded.

If you do have money to pay them, you can offer competitive salaries and benefits to what the candidate would get if they went to another company. Unfortunately, projects don’t usually have the luxury of financial resources at an early stage. You’re usually looking to bring people on to build a MVP (minimum viable product) to use for fundraising purposes. That’s why the recruiting phase is so important. You want them to be emotionally invested in the project and in you.

Without the ability to offer a salary, you’ll most likely only be able to offer equity and a certain job title (eg., Chief Technology Officer, Co-Founder).

Even though you can’t offer anything here, you may think that you don’t need any contracts and can push that till later after you’re funded. No. Don’t push contracts off. Do contracts now.

There are many founder employment agreement templates out there you can Google for, BUT don’t just download and use as-is, of course. Those are just a starting place and you’ll need to tailor it to your own situation. If you have trouble with the legalese and have any lawyer friends, ask them for help and/or a template.

In my previous startup that was an online-to-offline platform, I was able to recruit and hire a technical co-founder and other staff without any financials. Even though they were all working for sweat equity, I made sure that we all signed employment agreements (including myself), so there’d be no questions when a funding event occurred.

The employment agreements laid out:

  • Role and responsibilities
  • Salaries for four years
  • Stock options and vesting schedule
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Termination
  • Confidentiality
  • Non-compete

There were a couple other sections specific to the startup, but you can see that it’s like an other employment contract that you sign when joining a company. Those contracts lay everything out between the company and the employee. In the unfortunate situation that it’s not working out, you’ll be glad that you have the agreements.

5. Get to Work

With the recruiting and paperwork out of the way, it’s now time to get to work.

Focus on your product, business and execute. There’s still a long road ahead.

Whether you’re a Film Producer building the team to make your film or an Entrepreneur building a team to execute on your idea, the process is the same. Defining needed roles, finding candidates, recruiting and hiring are all the same, no matter the industry.

The differences are when we start talking about how to recruit for different roles and personalities – eg., how to recruit a Director vs. how to recruit a CTO. These aren’t so much about the roles as they are about the personalities that you’re dealing with while recruiting. That’s where the soft skills really come into play – people skills, social skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, etc.

I’ll put that on my queue for blog posts in the future. How I recruited a film director and a writer without money. How I recruited a CTO and a team without money.

Here’s someone that I think we all now, Steve Jobs, talking about building a team:

Build a great TEAM - Steve Jobs Rule #5 of 10

A recap of highlights to building your dream team:

What are the Steps to Building a Team for Success?

Remember that you can’t do everything yourself, so it’s important to surround yourself with great players around you.

1. Roles
2. Find Candidates
3. Recruit Candidates
4. Hire Candidates
5. Get to Work

What are the Important Clauses that Must Be in All Employment Agreements?

Even if everyone is working for sweat equity right now, be sure to have employment agreements in place with the following items:

1. Role and responsibilities
2. Salaries for four years
3. Stock options and vesting schedule
4. Intellectual property rights
5. Termination
6. Confidentiality
7. Non-compete
8. Other specific ones to your startup