How much does my word count, what is whose, and who is truly in charge?

Day 22. February 2017 posted Anja Kodra
Human resource management sounds like a thing that only giant “dinosaur” corporations deal with. Of course this is not the case, in startups the people are the most important element for realizing an idea, and we can only form a winning startup team with clear communication and clearly-defined tasks, roles and expectations! These were the words of the doctor of psychology and CEO of HRM Maja Fesel Kamenik at the lecture on forming and managing teams, intended for winter bootcamp participants who received Slovene Enterprise Fund’s SK75 investment last autumn. This is how she accompanied them on the path to harmonious work and creation with the first co-workers and an optimal process of coordinating team growth.

As bootcamp participants said, the first problems already appear when looking for fellow sufferers who will live and breathe their idea and will be prepared to take it a step further.

Not every tough guy or heroine are suitable for the world of startups

Looking for the right people with whom to overcome obstacles and successfully develop the product is the first challenge that entrepreneurs face, before the company is even created. As bootcamp participants said themselves, the first problems appear when looking for fellow comrades who will live and breathe the idea and will be prepared to take it a step further.

Motivation that isn’t necessarily of a financial nature

The world of startups is a specific environment that isn’t suitable for everyone, no matter how strongly they might be interested in the field that the startup is working in. As lecturer Maja Fesel Kamenik emphasized, startuppers are specific individuals defined by their strong desire for challenges, entrepreneurial orientation and strong motivation that isn’t necessarily of a financial nature.

From growing pains to a clear structure

After the introduction of each participant, the lecture hall breathed a collective sigh of relief because most, if not all, faced or at least wondered about similar dilemmas:
  • How to put correct people in the right places?
  • How to lead, motivate and keep these people in the beginning hectic environment when there is a lack of time for it?
  • How to grow from a family to a corporate culture and how to not lose trust and transparency when doing so?
  • How to solve the problem of dispersed decision making and set clear parameters of ownership and taking responsibility?
As a travel companion on the breakneck journey of startup entrepreneurship, the lecturer highlighted five key elements on the path towards success:

#1 Creative ideas and leaps are born in contraries, so friends aren’t the best choice
The first mistake to which no one is immune is inviting your friends into the circle of the founding team. A friendly relationship is in conflict with a desire for growth, because innovation, creative ideas and leaps happens in contradicting, incompatible thinking and conflicts. You will only get to the next stage in company development if someone will openly oppose your thinking, but we are psychologically prone to having a group of friends with whom we share the same mindset.

#2 Wrong staffing costs between 6 and 12 salaries, so pay it real attention
Even though many people find this to be a negligible part considering the plethora of other tasks and they want to get rid of it, it’s very important! Wrong staffing can cost the startup company 6 to 12 salaries on average, and not to mention the most important element, which is the lost time. There are many ways to find new colleagues, from companies specialized for searching to portals, professional associations and educational institutions. It’s worth it to see the candidates at least three times, so you meet them on different days and in various situations, and check in different ways whether their knowledge and mostly values are in line with the place they will get in your team. It is undoubtedly a challenge to which you should dedicate more time than just getting a few recommendations from friends or peers.

#3 Co-workers shouldn’t find out from the news that the company received an important investment
When the company is growing and the team expanding, there is a need for a clear structure. After all, the Slovenian legislation will force you into this, because it predicts legally defined facts and structure for companies with more than 10 employees. There is a hierarchy that can also lead to a block in communication. Information stops being shared in a conversation of co-founders sitting behind a desk, but instead co-workers need to be informed about the company state and key goals for the next quarter. This is a completely normal phenomenon, but it’s important to prepare for it. Nobody wants a situation in which a co-worker finds out about an important investment through the evening news.

#4 How much does my word count, what is whose, and who is truly in charge?
When developing a startup, there is often the question of who is truly in charge, how much your word counts, and what is whose. Founding team members and associated members need to have clearly-defined roles that correspond to the ownership structure and the obligations that come from it. People like to accept responsibility in good times and a lot less when something goes wrong. Even later, it is necessary to define the role and tasks for employees as clearly as possible, and especially state what exactly is expected from them. If expectations aren’t clearly defined, the employees create them themselves, which might not be compatible with your vision.

#5 Don’t be afraid of falls and be prepared for rapid growth!
A life path, in personal lives and business, isn’t a linear line for most of us, and we often encounter a fall before a rise. It’s important that you don’t get scared of these fluctuations. All development stages, from an idea to a successfully growing company, has its advantages and traps for which you should prepare as much as you can, and consider mistakes to be an experience and lesson for the future.

In two weeks of the intense bootcamp, startups learned about the key business functions important for early stage business operations and complementary content that they need in the first year of business and later.

And don’t forget, people are what makes a startup!

The world of rapidly growing startup companies is a special place where a specific type of individuals can live and prosper. Successful and fruitful work doesn’t end with the discovery of the right co-worker. It is necessary to further build relationships, clearly define expectations, and nurture communication among team members. Founders are the ones that establish company culture and for many people, a toxic culture and unclearly communicated rules turned out to be the first step towards the team’s disintegration. So next time, instead of asking “how isn’t this self-evident to them?” ask “why didn’t no one tell them that this is expected of them”.
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About the bootcamp

We carried out a two-week educational programme for recipients of last year’s autumn investment SK75 from Slovene Enterprise Fund in collaboration with Business Angels of Slovenia, Red Orbit, D.Labs, Hekovnik Institute, CEED Slovenia, 30Lean and Deloitte Consulting.
In the programme, startups learned about establishing key processes of company operations, product management, sales and web marketing, entering foreign markets, business metrics, legal and fiscal aspects of expanding abroad, out-of-the-building philosophy and the processes of validating key hypotheses, as well as the most frequent legal questions.

Together with consultants and lecturers, startups solved all key questions they are currently facing on their entrepreneurship path. The result of the bootcamp programme is an operative implementation document that will enable the entrepreneur effective progress and achieving the next development stage, and give members of the expert council an opportunity to monitor progress and achieve set goals. 

Programme is enabled by:




Bootcamp SK75 Maja Fesel Kamenik
Project Assistant Start:up Slovenija
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.