How to make your team believe in your startup – a short guide to help you win them over!

The team is one of the top ten reasons why startups fail, according to research done by CBInsights; eighter because of disharmony among stakeholders or just the wrong team. Team members must not only be able to perform, adjust, and innovate, but they must also be connected, dedicated, and striving for the same vision to thrive.

Members phycological behaviour may contribute to a startup’s failure for a variety of reasons. One of them is the fear of defeat in themselves and in the business idea itself. Making the importance of leadership in startup essential to reduce some of these problems within a team, especially when establishing or re-establishing belief in the business’s success.

That can be done by first believing in the venture yourself as the entrepreneur, founder and leader, telling the right story about the venture, and involving the team in the venture strategy through a shared vision.  

Believe in Your Startup Vision

Before anyone can believe in your startup, you have to believe in your business first. It often so happens that entrepreneurs seek advice from others before executing them. This process is generally recommended to do however this can lead to two doubts on the idea.

Thus, before validating your business idea, do your research to boost your business venture’s confidence. Do adequate market research with your niche target audience; you can find out early finances. Calculate the predicted profits based on the price range applicable to your target audience.

Lastly, how passionate are you about this venture? It takes much effort to be a successful entrepreneur and to motivate team members for your business venture. You need to be motivated first!  Lead by example; you have to be passionate about your venture and what you do; this enthusiasm is contagious.

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision

John Maxwell

The Power of Storytelling in Startup

However, even if you believe in your startup idea, it is still difficult to persuade others. Storytelling has been identified as a beneficial tool to gain stakeholders support throughout the startups’ development stage. Storytelling has the capability to get to the core of human nature to strengthen the relationship or create a relationship with stakeholders. Stories can gain support from stakeholders by setting future expectations, in the case of team members, employees or customers that could be in the form of the return of investment, career prospect, stock options for employees or valuable products or services for customers.

However, setting these expectations for stakeholders is challenging since they might not see the same vision for the business as you. By telling the right story, you can set future expectations that are legitimate to stakeholders and, in turn, provides you with a stronger community that believes and supports your business.

Nonetheless, be warned if those expectations are not meet, legitimacy can be compromised by adding different social and material elements that encourage stakeholders to imagine the future of the venture. The story you tell can also be linked to other growth success stories, which helps guide the startup’s stakeholders’ outlook. Though, do not alien the company too much to the success stories since stakeholders might alienate the industry downturn too closely with business performance.

A general outline for telling your story is to demonstrate the current problem and how bad it is in the market, and how you can solve it. Show that you are the right person or team to solve this problem based on past performances. After telling your story and getting the support needed by aware that stakeholders might expect you to follow the path you created with your story, be careful to construct a story that accurately fits your venture and the path you envision.

Shared Vision in Startups

After telling the story of your venture to your stakeholders, they have a general idea of where your startup is going and how it will get there. However, especially with employees, they might have different visions and ideas on how to get to the company’s objective.

A group of workers can build a common vision with a shared vision that achieves the company’s objective. This creates a sense of purpose and direction for each stakeholder involved in creating the shared vision, since now they are part of the company’s future, and it’s no longer just the founder’s objective but “our” objective. Now the team is not just joining the venture, but they are part of the venture.

This idea of the shared vision can overcome individual self-interest, personalities and work style differences. Now, they are committed to the shared vision and are more likely to overcome struggles. 

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.

Simon Sinek

Building a shared vision can be quite difficult; however, reverse leadership and the bottom-up approach or the ideals methods and structures to build a sustainable shared vision for all stakeholders.

Since now the team is not just joining the venture, but they are part of the venture, they as the team promote your startup. People want to promote what they are part of, and they want to promote what they’re proud of. That’s why having a good story alongside the founder’s venture is central to build a stronger and more wholesome community.

By first believing in your startup idea and then persuading others of the idea and then improving the idea with the shared vision, you have created a community of people who believe and your business idea. Having a community to believe in you is essential for an entrepreneur because being a company founder is difficult and brings many hardships does having a community alleviates the work. Especially when working with a team of people, it might be beneficial to use strategies such as reverse leadership to look further ahead than your own eyes on where the venture is going to find out more about reverse leadership: click here.

Reading suggestions:

Michael H. Cohen, J. M. (2015). The Power of Shared Vision : How to Cultivate Staff Commitment & Accountability. Creative Health Care Management.

Garud, R., Schildt, H. A., & Lant, T. K. (2014). Entrepreneurial Storytelling, Future Expectations, and the Paradox of Legitimacy. Organization Science, 25(5), 1479–1492.

Elisabeth Klingler

About the author: Elisabeth Klingler
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