Ian H. Han's avatar image.

Former CEO of SideGuide (exited)

My name is Ian H. Han, 5x entrepreneur, Johns Hopkins

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  • Who's crucial to have on your team when starting a new business?

    Sometimes it takes a village - when you launch a new business what roles are important to fill internally and are such roles a universal for any start up?

    Ian H. Han's avatar image.

    Human capital is hands down, dollars to donuts, the most important aspect of your start-up. What is needed, however, is not universal. You have to understand a few things...

    1. Understand yourself:Building a team is as much introspective as it is anything else. Experienced entrepreneurs will tell you that it's not about what you know, but what you don't. You don't know what you don't know until you don't know it. By understanding who you are and what you lack, you can hire with more of a semblance of what is needed.

    2. Understand your business:All too often you'll see inexperienced entrepreneurs get involved with partners or co-founders that either don't bring anything to the table or bring something that isn't needed. You're starting this business because you have some sort of trump card. You can do, build, or see something that nobody has successfully done, built, or seen before. You need to truly understand your business better than anyone, to be able to hire for her needs.

    3. Understand the culture:This is potentially the most difficult. Culture is important in a small start-up, especially those first few hires. You don't go into a start-up (whether a founder or an employee) expecting to have 2 weeks paid vacation, a company car, and a 401k. Being a founder isn't a job, it's a life. You are going to have to sacrifice. You're going to have to sweat and you're going to have to be in the same office with these people for 12+ hours a day, potentially 7 days a week. SideGuide was initially based in my 1 bedroom, 450 sqft apartment. We moved all the living room furniture out and put desks instead and all the employees had keys to my place. You have to hire not only the best, not only the brightest, and not only the most needed but you have to hire the people who can be your family. Especially in a small start-up, breaking up can be hard to do. An employee leaving (or being let go) could mean a huge setback or worse. Employees who don't get along can be remedied in a large organization. When you're shoulder to shoulder everyday, that becomes much more difficult.