Best Ways to Build a Startup Team With no Money

When it comes to funding a startup from venture capitalists, there are a lot of things that come to play. Angel investors and venture capitalists will look at aspects such as the business model that a startup embraces, how big is the market to be addressed, which products or services are being introduced to the market, etc.

Most importantly, funders will have a keen interest in the team tasked with implementing the mission and vision of a startup. There are very many factors that determine the competence of the team being assembled. It can be prior to industry knowledge, industry skills, competence, dedication, education background, among others.

Startups struggle when it comes to assembling a dream management team. It can be very difficult for a startup to assemble a great team especially if the startup has limited financing to compensate for its talent.

In our previous guide, we looked at How to Streamline Business Operations in a Startup Company. in this guide, we change gears a little bit. We shall be looking at best ways to build a startup team with no money. We shall be evaluating ways to build a better startup team, ways to keep your team motivated as well as looking at the biggest challenges that startups face when building a great team.

Ways to Build a Better Startup Team

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Team dynamics is key to the overall success or failure of a startup. For startup founders, their company is their life. Success in business becomes a very emotional affair especially when a company is facing troubles.

If you are looking for ways to build a great startup team, here are a couple of ways to go about it.

Be honest with your team

Building a great team is not just about hiring a few people to work for your company. You should put extra effort to look for common connections when staffing your startup to strike the right balance.

You should never hide anything from your team. Being open is key to building great startup teams. Even at times, you are not sure about certain aspects of your business, ensure you convey a good message to your team members. This ensures they can have complete trust in you, especially if they agree with your vision.

Give them a piece of your company

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People feel nice when they are recognized and appreciated. Today’s employee compensation has greatly changed. The standard practice now involves offering your employees equity as well as salary. You should never avoid offering equity to your founding team.

Doing so ensures you motivate them to put those extra hours to ensure the success of your startup. Ensure that the equity you give to your team comes with tied clauses so that you do not lose your best team to the competition.

Put fear aside

You should never fear failure. You should never be afraid of hiring those people who have previously failed. As a matter of fact, you should be happy to hire such people because they have a good experience of things they did wrong that contributed to the failure, and now are ready to put that aside and offer better results.

Lead your team

You should always lead your team from the front and be a good example. If there is something in specific you would not want to do yourself and you tell others to do it, it will not be taken positively. You should be a great leader in every aspect of your team. Encourage them, motivate them and remind them to remain focused on the end goal.

Have fun

Running a startup comes with a lot of responsibilities, but should not stop you from having fun. You need to ensure you strike the right work-life-balance with you and your team. Do not let the burden of work overshadow your happiness. You should motivate your team to enjoy their personal life as well.

How to Build a Startup with No Money?

Behind every successful company, there is a great team involved. Founders and CEOs will receive all the glory, but upon close examination, you will find that there is a dedicated team that made everything possible.

Startups often suffer a lack of money, but that is not to mean that you will not be able to assemble a great team even with limited finances. Here is how to go about it.

Offer stock options

If you cannot offer your team money yet, consider offering them equity instead. This is how a lot of great startups with limited finances go about it. Most talented people will not accept equity alone, and if you have to retain such talents, consider offering a balance between equity and salary.

For those who truly believe in your idea, they will be very happy to accept stock options. If the company sticks to its plan and achieves all the goals, employees who accepted stock options become millionaires once the startup goes public.

Employ Interns

If you have an exciting company coming up, one of the great things you can do when it comes to hiring is to offer inexperienced interns a chance to work in your startup, as you mentor and guide them. A fair number of interns will be willing to work for free in your startup, to boost the richness of their resume.

Instead of investing money with the interns, you will be investing your time and energy into making their work interesting and helping them to grow. You will never go wrong if you hire interns and dedicate your time to help them learn.

Hire part-time employees

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Another great way to assemble a great team when you are low on finances is to hire contractors and part-time employees. Contractors can be a great addition to your team because you can decide for how long you want the contract to run, depending on your finances.

You will also not have to worry about paid leave, medical insurance among other covers. You can find great contractors and part-time employees form online work garages such as Up work, Fiverr among others.

Defer Compensation

Another way to go about it is through deferring compensation. You need to be careful about the contents and agreement of your craft on the offer letter to avoid all forms of confusion. The most important thing to do is to reach an amicable agreement.

You will need to negotiate with a potential team member to defer compensation until a certain milestone has been accomplished and certain results have been realized. This can be a good strategy especially when you are dealing with a sales team.

Recruit close friends and family

It will never hurt to bring a family member or friend to help you in your process. Some other times, you may have no choice but to invite a member of your family to work with you. The good thing is that these people will always be ready to help you achieve your goals, out of gratitude and satisfaction they will feel having helped you in your goals.

Ways to Keep Your Startup Team Motivated

Keeping a small team going strong takes a lot of effort and dedication, but it is extremely rewarding. Being part of a startup team can be uniquely rewarding. It gives you different opportunities and experiences that you would otherwise never get in established corporations.

The only dark side of startups is that no one knows what the future holds. Due to this reason, startup founders and CEOs need to keep their teams always motivated. If you are looking forward to keeping your team always motivated, here are a couple of ways to go about it;

Establish a deep culture

Nothing makes a working environment feel great than a well-established culture. Showing up to work unexcited and unmotivated can be quite damaging. Crafting a strong workplace culture works wonders in terms of motivating your team.

Regular meetings

Meeting with team members frequently can be one of the most effective and easiest ways to keep a startup team motivated. It is important for teams to stay on the same page if they want to realize success. When teams are not keeping up, communication will suffer and business may come to an alt.

When leaders organize regular meetings with members of their team, it shows that you care about their professional well-being. Checking on each other on a frequent basis can make a team member feel cared for and valued.

Have a clearly communicated mission

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From the first moment you interact with a potential employee, you should be communicating the company’s mission in a clear manner. When employees have a clear understanding of what a company is trying to achieve, they will go the extra mile to learn the steps and processes needed to get to the destination faster.

Acknowledge small steps

As a leader in your team, it is your duty to make small wins’ count. Many teams and businesses fail while waiting to achieve the ultimate win. There is a need to recognize and acknowledge micro tasks that contribute to larger goals that keep teams going.

Take for example a sales team. They should celebrate every new client they bring on board, and not to wait to celebrate when large annual sales reports are released. When an employee makes certain progress in life and work, such signs of progress should be recognized and acknowledged.

Invest in training

This is a very important part that larger companies get right. There should be frequent and mandatory training hours that should be part of a company’s culture, as a way of improving the welfare of employees and keeping them engaged with what is happening in the current world.

The foundation of greatness is learning. Any team that cannot learn and adapts to what is happening in the market is doomed to fail. Companies should invest heavily in employee’s welfare, education, training, and personal development.

Get comfortable with mistakes

There will be a lot of trial and errors in a startup. Many things will be tried by your juniors and things will get horribly wrong. When things do not happen as planned, you should use that opportunity to let your team members learn from what went wrong, rather than admonishing them.

When someone is scolded for something that went wrong, they will have that guilty burden in themselves. In the future, they will be afraid to try anything they are not sure of. This happens because their confidence levels dip.

Allow playtime

Employees value their time and family very much. If it gets to a point that they have to sacrifice all their free time in the name of working for a company, their motivational levels will go low. There is no need to face incessant long hours and busy weekends, whereby they miss reuniting with their family. Life is not all about work, there must be a balance and moderation for everything.

Biggest Challenges Startups Face when Building a Team

When you bring a group of diverse individuals together, there are certain challenges that will pop up. Teamwork facilitated dream work, but sometimes it can be very challenging. 

Good teamwork involves connecting with teammates with work, and with a common purpose and goal. Bringing together great teams faces a number of challenges including;

Lack of diverse skills and interests

If a team consists of members with similar interests and skills, the purpose of the team may not be accomplished. As a team leader, you need to consider the scope of the team before selecting team members to determine which skills and interests best serve the team. You need to choose team members who have a range of skill sets and interests.

Poor communication

When individuals work as part of a team, communication becomes an integral part of success. If a team member treats his role as an independent one, communication suffers. If a team leader doesn’t make clear communication with other members of the team, the project flow suffers. There should be constant communication throughout the whole project process.

Lack of Leadership

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Teams need to have great leaders who can offer a sense of purpose and direction. Lack of effective leadership leads to ineffective team development. Without strong leaders who can guide a team and hold members accountable, a team will lose a leader and morale will be greatly affected.

Role confusion

Even though a team works together to achieve a goal, each person needs to have a clear understanding of their specific roles within the team. When team members lack a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do, the team will not develop cohesive and well-functioning units.


Conflict within teams is almost inevitable. How members of a team manage conflict is what matters. You need to invest time in training yourself and other members of your team on the importance of conflict management. When your team has the skills to effectively manage conflict, they will be destined for greatness.

Poor working conditions

When the working environment is not conducive, the development of a team suffers. A team needs to have a specific place for a meeting, a place that is conducive and effective. If a team is assembled virtually, members need to agree on a set of virtual tools to facilitate smooth communication.

There should be seamless tools that facilitate communication, file sharing, project, and task monitoring. The working conditions of team members should be enhanced and facilitated as well, to boost the morale of a team.

Startups face a lot of problems on their path to greatness. With limited funding and resources, a startup has to stay results-oriented and race hard against the rapidly changing market demands, consumer demands, and competition.

Summing it up!

Founders and other leaders have a lot to do without micromanaging employees. They should have their eyes on the prize and not on employees’ shoulders. Without constant supervision, it may be a bit hard to keep your team focused and motivated.

But it can be done. It begins with accountability. When an organization values personal responsibility and integrity, people will be a lot more focused and work autonomously to deliver targets. Accountability will work when everyone agrees to hold dear to each other.

Even without enough funding, a startup can still assemble great teams to deliver on vision and mission ahead. We have looked at various ways of compensating employees even when low on funds. Its now time for founders to stay motivated with a keen eye on the ultimate price.

Alberto Venditti

Alberto has more than a decade of concept & production expertise in engaging with clients and end-users for both the entertainment and the advertising industry, marrying his passion for strategy with years of field research in user experience and a solid academic background in Psychology.

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