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How to Build a Remote Team and Fill it with A Players

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tincanphone tincanphoneAs the head of marketing at Hubstaff I get to work with the owners of hundreds of startups whose primary concern is growth… more specifically the growth of their team.  As I get to know these founders, and associate the success of their company vaguely with the size of their team, there are a few factors that have become apparent.

Some teams come in with twenty contractors and we watch them shrink down to five, while others come in with three contractors and we get to watch them grow to fifty. What’s the difference? What makes one business grow and one shrink?

In my experience, it’s been their ability to add A-players as remote contractors.  These remote contractors get the tough jobs done, allowing the founders to focus on what really matters in their business (getting more customers).

Let’s dig a little deeper into these two key growth factors…

1: Why Remote Work Leads to Growth

Many of the businesses that I see growing are either fully remote, or at least partially.  Part of this is a product of the type of software we have (time tracking and screenshot software that allows you to pay your teams, etc…), but part of it is also based on the below benefits:

  • Top Talent – Remote businesses have access to contractors worldwide. This gives them access to hundreds of thousands of potential candidates to choose from instead of 5-10.  Huge difference.
  • Less Expensive – Most people relate this to hourly wage, but the bigger savings for remote companies is that the contractors will work by the hour instead of full time.  This means that your team is working when there is work and not working during down times.  This allows growth companies to more easily scale.

2: A-Players Create Growth

Does your business need cash in the bank before you can get A players, or does an A player create cash in the bank?  From what I’ve seen, it’s the latter.

A-players seem to be the “drivers” behind growth businesses.  They can run aspects of your business with little training, and they solve tough problems.  They make your life as an entrepreneur easier and more exciting because their work frees you up to become a “director” in your business, not an operator.

Typically they can fill a lot of holes… They aren’t just programmers, marketers or project managers.  They will learn and work to find and tackle problem areas in your business and fill in where needed.

So the big question… how can you find these A-players and get them involved in your business?

Where to find A Players for Remote Work

When founders have questions on how to find A players, I generally give them one of three pieces of advice in order of preference.

1.) Find contractors through a firm that has pre-tested contractors.  Hubstaff does offer a staffing service like this, but there are several others as well like Matchist.  I can’t speak for other firms, but we test and vet our contractors.

2.) Use Linkedin or a google search. I have personally had great luck with Linkedin, but one of the secrets is to get a Linkedin premium account and then use their “in-mail” feature because chances are, you are not connected to the contractors you will want to reach out to. How many A-players don’t have a Linkedin account? Very few…

3.) Search odesk, elance, or similar to find workers.  There are A-players that hang out on these freelancing sites, but the problem is that they are so used to getting underbid by low-quality providers that they rarely try to bid on jobs.  So the secret here is to search the marketplace, make your job private and invite only the top contractors to your job.

Now, keep in mind that your goal here is to not get one contractor, but 2 or 3.

Test Tasks – the Key to Quickly Vetting A Players

After you find 2-3 contractors that you think are A players, you need to test them.

A test task doesn’t have to be tough… it can be the easiest item on your to do list.  You are looking for a mix of personality, skill, speed and follow through.  You’re looking to see their approach to the task, how they communicate, and if you enjoy working with them.

You want to give them very little access to your product so its easy to cut them off if you need to.  Don’t go through the formalities of giving them an email address, introducing them to the rest of your team, etc… You’re looking for fit initially.

Now choose who you like the most between these 2 -3 contractors (it will be obvious).  You can give them another test task or if you are sure that you like them, then you can introduce to your team and start integrating them more tightly.

Don’t be afraid of this process.  It’s becoming very common and more and more contractors are accepting of it.  A-players are tenacious.  They are not going to get annoyed or tired or you by making them jump through a few hoops.  If they show hesitation this early, they probably are not an A-player.


DaveNevogt About the Author: Dave Nevogt is a co-founder of Hubstaff, a time tracking software for remote teams. Hubstaff allows managers to see time spent on projects, screenshots, activity levels,  in-depth   reports, and timesheets. Dave has been founding online companies for 10 years. He’s been honored in the Indianapolis 40 under 40 and Arizona’s 35 under 35. @dnevogt