Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Five factors to consider when building a business team

Strong teams play a fundamental role in a company's success, yet their importance is often overlooked.

It's a lot easier to sell a shiny product or an ingenious-sounding service than it is to market a good team. But when it comes to securing investment and ensuring that ideas become companies, the greatest ideas in the world don't mean a thing without team members who work well together.

Not all teams gel instantly, which is why it's essential for all employees to know and play their parts. Members must be able to see how their roles work, how they influence their teammates and the impact their contributions have on the business. To build the right team for the right project, there are a number of things to consider.

Story continues below advertisement

To retain the best employees and to protect your corporate culture, these are the five most important factors to consider:

1. Understand individual needs

People don't come with an off-switch. No matter how good an employee is, it's impossible to separate personal and professional lives, especially when one of them becomes an area of concern. Try as we might, human beings are not very good at preventing the two lives from bleeding into each other.

As a startup, it's important to provide resources that alleviate an employee's out-of-office stress. This might mean paying above average or providing better benefits coverage then competitors. A sustainable startup looks to develop a culture where both the company and its employees are in service of each other.

2. Autonomy

Startups often eschew traditional forms of management. Whether it's having a remote work force, co-working spaces, or non-traditional office hours, micro management is something that is generally not a part of the dynamic. It's not to say that it doesn't play a role, but micro-management in a startup is a tactic, not a general management style.

Autonomy in the workplace gives employees the ability to measure their worth by their contributions to a project or a series of projects. When employees are aligned and have their basic needs covered, they are able to focus on their jobs and their projects. The more semi-structure autonomy an employee has, the deeper they're able to ingrain themselves into the vision of the startup and align their professional goals with the company's.

Story continues below advertisement

3. Promote training

Startups are often compared with a poker game or a bet. In truth, they're far more akin to a team sport. Teams aren't about a group supporting a superstar, but rather a group of great individuals working together toward a common goal. By taking care of individual needs and providing autonomy, employees are free to focus on and hone their professional skills. Understanding and fostering growth in each individual's talents and skills can help the entire team grow.

4. End game

For a team to be effective, its goals must be communicated. Assuming a team is clear on why it exists can lead to confusion and loss of momentum. By sitting down with employees and giving a clear overview of the company direction along with clarity, scope and definition of their individual roles, they are able to see how they directly impact the overall purpose of the team and the business.

5. Guarding the gate

Startups are not about the idea, they're about the people and how they form together into a team. The four ideas above relate to making sure the individuals you have are right for the team, that they understand their positions and they are encouraged to prosper.

Story continues below advertisement

Guarding the gate is about making sure the company culture being developed is protected. Creating culture is not a one-off activity. It is something that has to be a consistently held practice and exist in every action the company takes. Culture isn't something that gets put on the back-burner when a company is successful: sustainable startups work on it every day in order to maintain their clarity and their focus, and to consistently strengthen their team.

Cameron Chell is the co-founder and CEO of Business Instincts Group, a venture creation firm in Calgary that finances and builds high-tech startups. To learn more about his work with sustainable startups you can visit

Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram
Join our Small Business LinkedIn group
Add us to your circles

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to