Question: My burning issue is about finding core team members. I am coming out of industry and don't have the typical student buddy network and don't belong to any internet cliques. How do I find experts and get them involved with my pre-funding stage start-up while they are still having their day jobs? Once I find them, what can I offer them?
Question by: Martin
Start an Advisory Board
"The best way to get experts involved in your business, is to build out an advisory board that's compensated with shares or options in your business. Many industry leaders, CEOs and Entrepreneurs will join advisory boards and make introductions, offer advice, and promote your business if they have an ownership stake and are interested and passionate about what you are creating. "
"Go to MeetUp.com groups, network on Twitter (search hash tags that apply to your work), search for Facebook Fan Pages & Groups where the experts you want hang out. You just have to be genuine -- if your project is solid, well-developed, and you're passionate, you'll attract the team naturally. Offer them a creative outlet and leadership experience; be upfront about hours needed. Just be authentic!"
Put the Computer Down and Look Outside
"My current partner and I connected at a conference. But it wasn't at that conference that we formed our business relationship. It was over time. Over lunches, some afternoon beers, some business ideas and even just talking about life. It was at this point that I knew I could work with him on any project and be happy with where we are at. Partner on a "need right now basis have never worked for me."
Build Your Street Cred!
"You need to figure out a way to make working with you seem less risky. You say that you're looking for experts, but YOU need to be an expert, too. Focus on building your credibility as a thought leader. Blogging about your industry is a good place to start. Also, get involved in communities where people in your industry are interacting with each other. Start talking and see who talks back."
Start Networking Now
"It's time you start joining meaningful networks in your new industry. Find sub-groups on LinkedIn, join associations, and ask friends for referrals. If you don't have cash to offer for compensation, you'll have to offer equity. Another option is to ask these experts for deferred payments, which you'll pay immediately upon funding. "
Monster, Wordpress, Local Colleges
"Use the Internet to post the positions you are using for on sites like Monster and the Wordpress Job Board. If you believe in your idea and have the money you can pay them as employees. If you want to treat them like partners then offer them performance based equity compensation. Once they achieve certain milestones or time periods they will receive x shares in your company. "
Linked in for headhunting
"If you want to headhunt solid core team members, find people on LinkedIn that have the skills sets/experiences you need. Honestly, look for people in their mid-late 20's in big, stodgy companies. These are the type of people that are a) young enough still to take a chance on something new, and b) have been in a boring company for long enough to yearn to leave. "
Hire instead of partnering
"If you haven't already identified a superstar in your network that would be perfect to work with, then you are better off hiring someone to fill the gaps that you are unable to fill yourself. Along the way, if this (or any other) person proves to be invaluable, then you can consider partnering. A partner is like a husband or wife (so I hear), so don't jump into it blindly."
If you truly love what you do, you'll get access easier
"If you really believe in what you're doing 1000% and have a plan of attack, it's hard to ignore passion. But many "experts," have blogs and are accessible. Start by commenting on their blogs as well as attending any industry conferences. Introduce yourself afterward. And be persistent but not annoying. Experts are going to be busy so they may forget about an email you've sent them."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.