Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma3 min readAugust 13, 2014

How to build a winning small business team

How to build a winning small business team

Photo for our team’s hackathon in the Baltic sea

Team means everything when it comes to small business. However building one is not such a small task.

At the get go you are the one creating and developing product/service. You are marketing, selling and looking after your customers. You may think that fiinding other passionate, loyal and diligent people like yourself will be easy.

But excuse me I have to burst your bubble – it’s not.

Hiring employees can be a crapshoot.

At some point you wanna give up on having a team and continue being one man show, but remember – it may be your dream, but you cannot chase it alone!

Hire on Culture, not Qualifications

How do you build your team? Do you hire the smartest kids on the block? The most experienced people? Someone recommended by a friend? Or anyone who wants to work for free?

To tell you the truth, we’ve tried close to everything. We learned it hard way that the smartest and most qualified people are not always the best choice. Through trials and errors we discovered that hiring for culture not qualifications is the way to go.

Everybody needs to deliver in a small team. No exceptions. Therefore first of all we search for do-ers. People who rather make a mistake and learn from it, than sit and wait for the instructions to land in their lap and are unable to make decisions or take on the experiments.

But that is not enough.

Corporate culture – actions speak louder than words

Here at MailerLite we aim to create a positive and growth oriented environment.

Self-awareness, empathy, optimism and curiosity are an integral traits of our culture. We look for people who have passion for life and learning. We help our teammates thrive and grow, or we’ll let you go to find the right place for you based on those values.

Firing is Hard, but Important

There are still a big stigma about being a jerk and firing people. But times are changing and firing people tells more about your culture than hiring.

Several hours of interviews don’t reveal full personality. It still feels like buying a lottery ticket, you may win a jackpot or lose $5.

People are trained to give the right answers and represent themselves in a best light, however a few weeks of work together will tell more if they are a good fit for your culture. Letting people go sometimes is the best decision for both parties.

Does that mean letting a person go is easy? Of course not. But there is difference between having an average and a winning team.

Why stop at good enough? Let’s strive for what’s the best!