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Guest Blog: Building your dream team

by Oli Ashness May 22, 2015

The rise of the start-up is a story that we’re all very familiar with, but aside from a great idea these companies also need great people to help them in their rise to business success!

Read on for SimplyCook founder Oli Ashness’ words of wisdom on the challenges that people bringing talent into these start-ups face…

As an entrepreneur, the start-up journey constantly takes you out of your comfort zone. For me, hiring was no different. I had never previously hired anyone before so when I started to look for new people for my team I took a fresh view on the subject - although luckily I was aided by some very helpful start-up founders!

One such entrepreneur, and a successful one at that, said the main question he asked himself when meeting potential new hires was:

‘Does this person move my thinking forward in the fast half hour?’

This really appealed to me as it’s a simple but great way to qualitatively assess whether a person can make an impact with creative input or is likely to be a bit of a part-player.

Another entrepreneur said 3 criteria were key for most hires:

  1. Fit – how do they fit into the team / what type of company culture am I building?

  2. Are they technically capable / qualified (if such a criteria can be applied) to do this role?

  3. And crucially, are they the sort of person who is proactive and will get lots of stuff done (with or without close management).

I think predominantly about two other factors when hiring for SimplyCook….

  1. I like prospective employees to take a proactive approach to learning. In interviews I actually ask people ‘how do you approach learning?’ which often results in puzzled faces! However, the best people realise they need to be constantly learning and therefore tend to immerse themselves in well-regarded blogs, posts from thought leaders etc.

  2. I also think start-up hires should be based on 80% motivation and 20% credentials and brainpower. If you bring very motivated people together behind one vision it’s very powerful.  In fact, I actively avoid people who over-sell their credentials – it probably means they aren’t cut out for diving into real graft, and if they think they can bag jobs on their background, natural ability or skill set they’re less aware of the 80% that moves the needle.

I like to hire the people that have what it takes on paper, but also have enough awareness to recognise that whatever their background, building a company is about humility and you need to first ask the right questions, figure out the best answers, build, test and learn. This way we can leave pre-conceptions at the door and make real progress.

About SimplyCook:

Simplycook.com is a unique recipe kit service. We send high quality chef developed ingredients & 20min recipes by post, for just £10/month. We’re on a mission to get Britain cooking again.

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