Ep 69: #AskAkua // Bootstrapping a Team

Ep 69

"I'm bootstrapping, which means that the talent I can afford right now is not as experienced as I would like."

Sound familiar?

In this #AskAkua episode of the Open Door Conversations podcast, Akua Nyame-Mensah gives insight on how to start a team on a limited budget and how to give your team more confidence to make decisions independently. 

Bootstrapping looks different to every business, but this episode will give you a framework with which you can learn how to bring together or re-engage a team. Don't have a team? You will still get great information on discovering your business goals and how to meet them.

Getting clear on your budget is priority #1, as is realizing that what you pay and the value you receive are two different things. If you can't afford the talent you're looking for, ask yourself what problem you want to solve by hiring these people. Hire the people who are going to get you closer to hitting the goals you've set.

Listen, Follow, Review, and Rate the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Audible | Amazon Music | Spotify

What's Covered in this Episode About Budget Clarity

  • Learn the importance of getting clear on your budget and the problem you want to solve by hiring team members. 
  • Remember that there isn't a correlation between how much someone is paid and how much value they can provide. 
  • Hiring people with experience doesn't necessarily mean you will get the support you need. 
  • Realize that hiring experienced people may not save you time; they still need direction, acknowledgment, and to be engaged with.
  • You don't need a clone of yourself; you need people who complement you and provide different perspectives. 
  • Be aware of your capacity and be realistic about what you can accomplish with your time. 
  • Your staff may not feel confident to make decisions because they haven't been validated or acknowledged. It's up to you to create systems and processes so they feel comfortable.
  • When a leader is constantly firefighting, usually, the first thing to be sacrificed is engaging and validating their team.
  • The support you can afford can still meet your needs, but it might look different than you imagined. Think beyond the 9-5 structure. Consider hiring an expert who doesn't need direction for a task that needs doing.
  • If you don't have the space to validate, teach, train, or coach an inexperienced team, don't hire.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Don't just hire people, for the sake of hiring people, you don't have a business because you have other people that you've hired." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "You get what you put into it. So if you have people on your staff that you feel are inexperienced you feel are potentially nervous, don't trust their instincts, it's actually up to you to validate them, it's up to you to create systems and processes, where they start to feel comfortable and have that psychological safety so they can really show up." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Bootstrapping looks different for everyone." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

Playlists-Wide Rectangle Ad

Here’s the transcript for episode 69 about Bootstrapping a Team

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode, I've decided to do another hashtag ask Akua episode just because I'd like to create content that I get excited about. And I'm excited to really jump on this topic, this particular question. So I actually kind of have two questions here came from once again, people that I actually no in real life. And I'm just really grateful that it was something that we're willing to share. And so my hope is that this is helpful for anyone listening to this. And I think that whether or not you have a team, the content, I'm going to be sharing my perspective on me sharing today will be useful to you as well. So the topic really is sort of bootstrapping, building a team. And then I'm also going to share my perspective on something that you can do to help bring together a new team or help to reengage an existing team. Because I think there's always an opportunity to reengage, always an opportunity to re Introduce yourself. So let me just share the statement that I received. Because this is something once again, I think that will potentially resonate for a lot of you listening. But here we go. I'm bootstrapping, which means that the talent I can afford right now is not as experienced as I would like, that means I have to carry the burden of making all the major strategic decisions. And when I tried to delegate, I have staff that are nervous to execute, because they don't quite trust their instincts. I love this statement that was shared, I'd love to break it down. And once again, please keep in mind that I'm simply sharing my perspective, this is not a two way conversation. So there's probably a lot more nuanced a lot more information, I would need to truly be able to support this leader, this founder, the CEO, a key thing to also keep in mind is the way in which I share my perspective in these hashtag Ask a coach episodes is not the way in which I show up as a coach to support my clients. Because I'm only sharing my perspective, an added element to this is, you know, a question you can ask yourself is what can I do to empower them to step up and take or own decisions? And this was somebody else who sort of added this element when it was shared within a WhatsApp group, because that's actually where I asked a few people. What should my next podcast episodes be about are what are the things that you're struggling with? What are the things that are keeping you up at night, so if trying to figure out how to make the most of the talent that you can invest in right now is keeping you up at night. Keep listening, because I'm going to share my perspective and a framework that you can keep in mind to keep moving forward. A lot of what I will share will probably sound quite similar to some of my previous episodes. So please make sure that you take a look at some of my other episodes and some of my other blog posts around building a new team or reintroducing yourself to a team or re engaging a team. I think, first and foremost, when we are thinking about this statement is really just recognising that first and foremost, bootstrapping looks different to everyone. So a huge part of being able to even have a clearer understanding of what you can do within a startup related to talent is also understanding your budget, understanding your runway, giving yourself an idea of what you can afford monetarily, right, financially, what's the money in the bank? What's the money that's going to come in? So what does that mean in terms of how much I can spend on my talent on my staff? Because bootstrapping is not made equal. One person's bootstrapping is another person's. I don't know what but it's not created equal. So it's really important to get very clear on what the numbers are. I don't have the details based on this individual who shared this really great statement but when I'm working with my clients, That's one element of it really getting clear on what bootstrapping means. Because it doesn't mean the same to every founder to every CEO to every leader. There's also an assumption or a story that this particular leaders telling themselves in this statement that because they're bootstrapping, there's certain types of talent they can afford. And that talent doesn't have the experience that they would like, yes, it could potentially be true in this case, but the reality is that talent, and what you can afford in terms of value are two very different things. So a huge thing I always try to have a better understanding of when a founder is telling me they can't find or can't afford, the people they're looking for, is to have an understanding of what is it they actually want, what is the problem they're trying to solve with that actual individual they're looking to hire, what is that individual going to do in terms of helping support them on their journey to profitability, help generate revenue, or whatever their goals are, that's a key piece, right? Making sure that you're actually hiring the people who are going to help you get closer to generating revenue, hitting your goals around whatever goals you've set for yourself, maybe it's generating leads, or generating exposure visibility. So that's a key thing to also understand you have your budget element, you have a clear understanding of the problem you're trying to solve. A part of that problem you're trying to solve might be an understanding of what you as a leader or founder is good at or not good at. And so you're trying to hire someone to compliment you on something that is actually going to help drive you know, drive things within your business really drive the bottom line support you in generating revenue. But that's a huge part, what's your budget? What are you actually looking to solve by hiring this individual, because if you're hiring people, they really should be solving or supporting you to solve a core problem or helping you to generate revenue, whatever leads you're looking for, or whatever, you know, whatever you're trying to do, wherever your startup is, or wherever your business is, right now, this last bit is around experience. And I think that this is also a really important thing to sort of break down and look at, because I also don't think that there is a correlation necessarily, between how much someone's paid the amount of experience they have, and once again, the value that they provide, right, all those things can be very different. And so when thinking about talent, and thinking about the stories, you tell yourself around talent, it's really important to break those things down. Because, once again, you could bring someone on who's very experienced, and they will not support you towards the actual things that will help you improve your bottom line help you make money. And if it's something you want to do get that investor money. So bootstrapping is not equal for everyone talent, you really need to understand the problem they're trying to solve or what they're going to support you if specifically, that hopefully will drive the needle on your business. And experience, as I mentioned before, is incredibly relative, right? incredibly, incredibly relative. So those are just the things I wanted to break down in this. And then the last bit, of course, is thinking about, you know, what you're actually doing as a founder, what is that unique bit that you add that no one else can do. And for many of them, it might be around making strategic decisions. And ultimately, no one else can do that for you. Right? Another thing that I always love to also think about when we're talking about talent is, you know, we talk a lot of times about finding someone like us, I think, you know, a few weeks ago, I actually posted something on social media where I was like, you know, to try and find a clone of yourself. And I actually don't think that founders need to find clones, they need to find people who can compliment them and have different perspectives from them. So they can truly be innovative problem, solve, and move or drive the needle within their business. But I feel like that's maybe going off on a bit of a tangent, but just really recognising that, you know, there is a secret thing, a secret sauce, a unique thing that you add as a founder. And that's not something you're always going to be able to delegate. So thinking about how you can build systems and bring on people to complement you. So you make sure it makes sense. A part of it also might be that you're taking on more than you should. So also checking in with your capacity, and also being realistic. And I use that word realistic in a very nuanced way. But being realistic about what's possible within the timeframes that you've set for yourself, because a lot of startups are not realistic about the things that they've set for themselves within the timeframes don't have the resources and aren't investing in the right people. They're going to drive the needle towards those unrealistic goals. Once again, that can be another whole conversation. Another key thing I wanted to bring out about this statement that I think is super key is actually recognising that your staff maybe might feel that they're you aren't ready or that they need to be validated or acknowledged. In terms of the work they're doing. That's a huge part of being a leader. And so one thing right or one perspective to keep in mind when we are thinking about this is you kind of get what you pay for beyond that you get what you put into it. So if you have people on your staff that you feel are inexperienced you feel are potentially nervous, don't trust their instincts. It's actually up to you to validate them, it's up to you to create systems and processes, where they start to feel comfortable and have that psychological safety so they can really show up. And that's sort of the struggle, I think, that most founders and startup leaders have, because they want to get things done and move quickly. They don't feel like they necessarily have the resources, not just monetary resources, but also time resources to invest in their team the way they need to. Because even if you brought on experienced people, you still need to give them direction, you still have to engage with them, you still have to acknowledge them, you still have to put them on the right path. So it gets a bit tricky when we start thinking about all these elements. So let's get into some of the things I have. I do have some notes, a lot of what I just shared right now actually is just stuff that came to me. But I do have some notes I want to share as well. So it should be a given that you're engaging with your team. But the first thing that leaders stop doing when they get busy, is engaging with their team, validating their team, making sure that they're able to be strategic, because if you're constantly firefighting, and you're just doing doing doing, it's really hard to tell other people what to do, it's really hard to give other people direction. And it's also really hard to give other people feedback. So it's really very important. Even when you get into a season when you're being very busy. Or you're getting into a season when you're fundraising, it's so important you make sure you know how to acknowledge each team member as invest in as individuals. And you build a system that allows you to honour that prior to getting crazy busy or prior to starting on your fundraising journey, if that's something that you want to do. And as I mentioned before, bootstrapping looks different for everyone. I think that a lot of times we get set, and we have the stories we tell ourselves around what we can afford what it would look like, we also because we tend to be in environments where we're surrounded by other people maybe doing similar things or hiring in a similar way, we sort of reinforce some of these beliefs and these stories based on what we see other people doing and what stories other people tell us as well. Because ultimately, you probably could afford better support, it just might not look the way you expect it to look, it might not be full time. And it might work differently for how you work. And you know, whatever experiences that you've come in with, based on your previous work that you've done, most likely in corporate. So it's also about giving yourself the opportunity to think beyond, you know, the nine to five structure, giving yourself the opportunity to think beyond, you know, an entry level intern, or you know, someone who just comes out of college, because there could be people who support you, it just might look like five hours a week, and that five hours a week might be a lot more effective, a lot more effective at driving, you know, the results that you want towards the bottom line that you want. All right, than bringing on someone full time that you have to validate, you have to acknowledge you have to train you have to coach but you have to give yourself the space to really reflect on that. And think about what makes the most sense for you and your business. Because having someone full time even having someone part time that is not an expert in what they do or not experienced in what they do, could potentially be taking more time away from what you could be doing, which is more strategic. So let me know if that makes sense. That seems like a lot happy to break that down a little bit further. But the long and short of it is that it's important to start to think about what's possible and be a little bit more creative and open to it. All right. So if you've hired inexperienced team members, creating the space to coach train, teach, validate, as I mentioned before is key. If you can't do that, don't hire a team. All right, it's the same even if you're bringing on potentially one of the things I talk a lot about with some of my clients is also bringing on like online support. So you can bring on potentially like a VA or virtual assistant that doesn't have it much doesn't have much experience, you have to show them the processes, you can't hire those types of VAs that type of support, if you don't create the time to actually build the processes and teach them, right. That's just you know, people don't learn things through osmosis, you have to actually do the work, right. And you just might be better off doing things on your own right until you can actually get enough to actually have the runway to invest in people long term, or outsourcing specific tasks to specific experts that can truly produce results without oversight. All right. And just to give a quick example of this, and this is something that I even reflect on. At my time when I was working full time and I had people working for me full time that did a lot of marketing work a lot content work, even had graphics people working for me almost full time. I mean, I see a lot of startups, really focusing on social media to start to create that community that they hope will ultimately become those clients down the line. And I think that that potentially could be a really smart way to do that. You know, always want to question whether or not you know, you're able to do that in a way where you're also validating your product and the pricing all of that. But you know, one of the things that I actually reflected on later on when I started my coaching consulting practice was that I actually could have gotten a lot more from investing in a copywriter who actually knew how to copyright versus trying to hire entry level people who maybe just came out of college with English, who then had to learn copywriting, I could have invested the same amount of money into that copywriter who spent maybe 10 hours every two weeks coming up with copy for social media, and it would have taken my business a lot further. And I probably would have saved a lot more time and energy, because I wouldn't have had to try and teach or give them the opportunity to try and learn some of those elements that would make them good copywriters. There's of course, this element of it's great to be able to work with people in person. And there's also it's also great to potentially support people who are looking to learn. But if you're within a startup, and you're bootstrapping, if you're making decisions, right, it definitely makes more sense for you to invest in something where you're going to potentially get a result a lot faster. So those are just things that you have to weigh and things that you have to think about. If you're thinking to yourself, you know, I'm not sure what I can actually delegate, I don't know what I could actually give, or you really feel like everything that you're doing is super strategic, I really would recommend that you audit the tasks and responsibilities that you're doing, keep track of what you're doing over a week, and then look back and really reflect on whether or not what you're doing is generating revenue, or helping you get towards getting clients. All right, it also will give you an opportunity to really reflect on what you're doing with your time. Because a lot of times as leaders, a lot of times as human beings, we think that we're doing all the things, and then we sit down and look at it, we're like, wait, I'm actually not spending that much time on these elements, I just feel like I am. And I'm reinforcing that story. And like, everything I'm saying to myself is actually not what's really happening. So taking the time to audit your task and record them will also give you an opportunity to really see one where you're spending your time and energy and then to to help you think about what you could potentially delegate, or how you could outsource potential pieces of what you're doing. As I've mentioned before, and just to reiterate this, you know, a lot of what we do as founders is actually challenge, right, the stories, we're telling ourselves the assumptions that we've made. And it's really important that we work through that, because a lot of us come from that normal nine to five place, I don't come from the nine to five place. I've always worked at kind of weird places, but a lot of us have. And so if you come from that, you know, nine to five mindset, you might be just trying to translate that into bootstrapping your business. And that's not going to work. So what are some of those things coming up for you that you have resistance on just because you're used to it, it's routine, but it's not actually helping you once again, drive you towards your vision and whatever goals that you have for yourself, all right. Another thing is you just have to also get comfortable firing and letting go of humans who are actually not supporting your business towards where you want to go. Right. So that's another thing as well, like, don't just hire people, for the sake of hiring people, you don't have a business because you have other people that you've hired, one of the things that people will always ask me is like, oh, have you hired someone as if that makes me more of a legitimate business, or a more of a legitimate business person, it doesn't, I work with a lot of other really great service providers. None of them work for me full time. But I do have other people, of course, who support me. So if that's a story that you tell yourself, you're not legitimate until you have other people working for you full time, that also might be a story that you want to reflect on. And really think about whether or not that's helping you move towards where you're looking to go in your business. So here are some of the things I really would recommend that you reflect on, right? So going back to this framework that I use, the framework I use to support my clients, and the things I keep in mind as I move forward, even within building my business. So one cultivating your self awareness. And these are some of the things that you can ask yourself, what is actually going to be generating money, right? The things that I've delegated what's actually going to generate money or help me get closer to some of the goals that I have, or the things that I've promised investors. Another thing, what are actually strategic decisions that I'm making keep track of them keep track of your decision making process really reflect on whether or not those are things that you can actually delegate another thing, how much time do I have to actually train mentor, coach? How much time do I actually want to train mentor? Coach, right? As I mentioned before, what budget do I actually have to invest in people and talent, and that could also be service providers or things that you outsource to experts? All right, how much time do I want to spend training others? Right? And then the last bit that cultivating your self awareness around what are my own preferences about showing up and doing work? And how do I communicate that to others, right? am I sharing right? The way in which I make decisions when I like to work, how I prefer being communicated with because all of those elements are key to be able to engage, which is the second step of the framework. So in terms of engagement, right, what are you actually focused on in the business, right? Is it actually driving to the results that you want? And are your team members aware of how they add to that and how they're also driving to the results that you want? Do you actually know each member of your team? Have you gone through an onboarding process or what I like to describe as Have you introduced yourself? Have you reintroduced yourself making sure that you're creating time and space to constantly do this, once again, when a lot of founders get into firefighting mode, when they get into fundraising mode, they forget about these important elements. And if you forget about these important elements, this is when people start to leave, because they start to feel like they actually are not really part of something, right? It's not worth it for them. All right, do you know how each team member wants to be acknowledged, validated, rewarded? Okay? These are things that you should know, as a leader, especially a founder within a small startup, all right? And where and how can you continue to create space to train and mentor etc. So there's lots of different ways that you can do this not all of it has to be in person, not all of it has to be at the same time, you can create tools that allow you to provide training or coaching or support a synchronously, right, so think about that as well. And then this last bit, and this is something that I always share that's really important to keep in mind is that expectations piece. So how do you actually set the strategy of your business? Have you communicated those strategies and the elements that need to be communicated the people who are supporting you, that's something that a lot of people don't necessarily share? They think they've shared it, or maybe they've shared it once. But it's something that you have to repeat over and over again, and you make sure that you repeat it, and you're sharing it and communicating and in a way that's going to resonate with those team members are a hate. Does each team member know what they're supposed to work on focus on the each of them know what success looks like? That's one of the questions I always love to ask, How often do you provide each member feedback? How can you create a system around that, right? How do you decide whether or not team members are adding to the results of your business? That's a big thing, right, because once again, with a lot of startups, I see people who just have members of their team who are just not doing anything that actually relates to driving results within their business. And then last thing in terms of expectations, and this is also related to that engagement piece is what worksheets, checklists, standard operating procedures that you or your team members can build to support themselves, right and make sure that they're checking things off and getting things done in a way that not only resonates with you but also is driving to results. Alright, so that's really what I wanted to share today. In this podcast episode. It's actually getting a little bit longer than I thought it would be. So I'm not going to do the second question. We're gonna get into this next question, New Year new team on another podcast episode. But as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, if you have any thoughts for me any questions, any feedback, any pushback, please feel free to reach out. I always love to get the statements because I love to once again to share my perspective and just give you another thing to think about. All right, so I hope that you have an amazing holiday. I know the holidays are coming up and stay safe and stay saying thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!

Leave a comment


 Untitled design (7)  Untitled design (8)  Untitled design (1)



               CASE STUDIES

               PEOPLE ROUNDTABLE


Leaders aren't born; they're made.

This 5-minute assessment will help you understand what leadership stage you're currently in so you can determine your next steps.


© Copyright 2023, Akua Nyame-Mensah | Terms & Conditions  | Website by Rachelle Deem