STARTUP GURU: Team Motivation

17th May 2017 | 4 min read

team-motivation1-STARTUP GURU: Team Motivation

Limited resources and budget require founders to curate a winning team and advisory base from day one of starting a business. Hiring hungry, ambitious individuals is half the battle – the other half is getting them to stay motivated through the ups and downs of startup life.

Having been through the motions, Jonathan Jeffries (JJ), Co-Founder of Onestack describes the best techniques – Onestack is a Melbourne-based platform that helps founders and startups grow globally.


Find Your Product Market Fit: Every startup needs to understand what it’s trying to be and to who before creating a workplace culture. This sounds obvious, but the working environment will form naturally once the product market fit is established, so less time will be spent trying to create one before you’ve even begun.

New Ways To Work: The more ‘traditional’ methods are the most rewarding. ‘Traditional’ looks different to every startup – fast-growth tech companies usually have all-nighters as their way of working in order to complete products or reach milestones within a certain time frame. Experiment to see what works for your team, but once you’ve found a way of working, stick to it.

Trust Isn’t the Issue: Agility and flexibility are key considerations with millienials when accepting a role, but it’s a maturity thing. Agree the rules, broadcast them across the whole team and have confidence that they’ll be obeyed. People love working, so don’t make trust an issue when it comes to how they spend their work day.

Collaboration: Within the workplace, it’s the difference between success and failure.

Get Talking: As networking events are evolving into after work sociable, educational gatherings with drinks, the more they’re not being associated with being part of a role, but for personal development. Encourage team attendance or even go yourself to offer free promotion for your startup and enhance your team’s knowledge and network.


Design That Doesn’t Count: Workplace design is one of the last things that matter within a young startup. That said, there are plenty of hubs that can provide you with the essentials, beneficial contacts and creative ways to market your product. London has many – some more tailored for growth than others, so research is required. If you’re at the very beginning with a low budget, a coffee shop or home office will suffice.

Design That Does Count: As a startup reaches A-C, 5 million upwards and headcount increases, office environment and design begins to play a part in ability to acquire talent and build culture. At the unicorn stage, the office tends to be pretty pimped out. Again, it comes down to the desire to gain the best staff and ensure they’re happy in their place of work.

Simply The Best: I believe in the old ways; letting high achievers have a Friday afternoon off to spend in the sunshine or a lie in on a Monday will always be a winner. If people are doing the right thing and getting results it’s vital to make sure they know that you know, especially if they’re putting in more effort or sacrificing their personal life to spend more time at the office. Nice gestures never go a miss.

Who Needs a Holiday: The UK is blessed with quite a few holiday days, so more paid holiday isn’t the best motivator. The most important thing is to spend time creating a culture that constantly encourages success and enabling staff to feel the love every time they hit target. I would suggest sending employees between national and international bases (if you have them), this means more teams will get to collaborate with each other.

Being flexible to accommodate hobbies during the work day is also effective. Within Onestack, a few team members were finding it difficult to fit a full yoga class into their lunch break. I started ‘Wellness Wednesday’ across the company to include a longer lunch break so everyone was able to fit in a workout class. This not only promotes staff happiness, but health and fitness too – overall reducing sick days.

Clean & Simple: Never lose sight of the basics – staying hipster is tough and expensive whereas a clean, positive workplace is always going to be beneficial and cost-effective. Clean bathrooms, clear desks, and clean kitchen areas are essentials ahead of recycled milk crates and 70s style sofas.


Make Life Easier: We’re very fortunate that in today’s world, we have all the tools to start a business much cheaper and more convenient than before. AWS, Stripe, Zendesk, Office 365, Slack, Asana, Salesforce – all make life easier and save more time than ten years ago from an entire business suite foundation.

The working world is much more adventurous than we ever imagined it could be; we can work literally anywhere as long as there’s wi-fi or 4G, we can complete almost any task from our phones, fitness classes are encouraged during lunch breaks, and offices are being designed with creches inside them. In short, our work and personal lives are blurring into one active, tech-filled, sociable life which should be embraced by every startup in order to succeed.