Part 12 – Employees Are the DNA of Your Minimally Viable Startup 


If your startup needs to be lean and adaptive, your employees should be as well.  The kind of people you hire will have a great deal to do with how successful your startup is.


Instability, uncertainty and to an extent the unknown are the hallmarks of a brand new venture.  You don’t know who your clients are.  You may not know what your deliverables are.  You probably don’t even know what value you are going to bring.  You’re a startup. You’re trying to find a sustainable and growable client base.  Things may be in flux for a long time until you reach that goal.


Any people you hire or those that choose to work with you, probably won’t be happy in a startup’s environment if they are looking for stability and to just go through the motions. Conversely, you probably don’t want to hire people that won’t flourish in a chaotic environment.


So what kind of people should you look for?


1 – Creative people provide solutions.


Your employees need to be creative.  The more creative the better.  Creative people not only have lots of new ideas, they can look at a situation and find the piece that everyone missed that results in a solution to a problem, a new approach, or even a new customer base or product.


People tend to be better at some things more than others.  Not every person can offer ideas for every problem.


2 – Adaptive people fit in everywhere..


Employees who want a single role or responsibility will probably be unhappy.  A startup tends to have people who wear a lot of hats.  True, people will tend to focus on their strengths, and you may want a specialist, but generalists who are good at what they do is a probably a better fit.  An MVS doesn’t have many employees. You need employees who can do more than one thing well and backfill when needed.  They must be willing to do so as well.  Niche-fitters are probably a bad fit.


3 – Capable people accomplish what they set out to do.


Employees may be adaptive and creative, but if they don’t accomplish anything in the process the value they bring is more theory than practice.  You want both. If you don’t get things done you can’t measure progress and results.  Capable people can take an idea or a solution and build an experiment around it to prove or disprove their ideas.


4 – Successful people don’t hold onto failure.


If your employee is capable and runs an experiment, and the experiment is a failure, they don’t hold onto the idea and they don’t take the failure personally or grudgingly. We all experience emotions, good and bad. To a successful person a failure is a chance to learn and improve, not mope or complain.  A successful person knows when to give up and move on when their pet project isn’t going anywhere. A successful person tends to live in the present and future. Egos aren’t welcome. Confidence and pragmatic risk-taking is encouraged.


5 – Honest, helpful, and positive people are a given.


Why would you want anything else?


6 – Diverse people and backgrounds brings perspective.


If you want all of your employees to be just like you, the question becomes, why do you want to compete with yourself in your own business?  Also, why do you want to bet your business on a very narrow point of view? Different perspectives bring a different outlook and approach. Diverse people bring diverse approaches and understandings.  That’s not a bad thing.


Your employees should be a cross section of ages, backgrounds, races, genders, etc.  The hard part is that you’re an MVS.  You don’t have a huge number of employees.  Initial diversity will be minimal as well. Don’t let this become a de facto standard for future employee hiring.



Your startup is a child business. It’s future growth and success depends to a great extent on the DNA you bring to it in the initial phases of its existence.



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