Starting up a business can be difficult. The right people need to be found and systems need to be put in place to allow the workplace and employees to grow. But how do you do this when you are just starting out?
Tazz Gault, co-founder of StateZero, an accelerator that supports early-stage start-ups, thinks the main focus should be on the people.
“Remember, as a founder, to believe in people’s potential,” Gault says. “Not just what they have on paper, not just what they come to you with, but how you can help them to grow.
“Fundamentally, as an accelerator, we believe in people. We believe in their potential as an employer and as part of a community.”
Humanity in tech
The accelerator works with start-ups that use blockchain to tackle problems in society. The name StateZero comes from the idea of bridging the gap between humanity and tech, Gault explains, and she believes technology can be a force for good in the workplace.
“People are scared of technology – they think it is going to take over, that it is going to replace jobs,” she says. “While that might be true in some areas, in our opinion people will always matter. You buy and sell from people. Your technology will impact people, and that is where humanity matters. That is really important for everybody to remember when they are building a new tech product or a business. There will always be people involved, and that is where it comes back down to meaningful relationships.
Gault admits that some jobs will disappear or become automated, but that they will be replaced by new roles. “The stats show new technologies will also bring millions more jobs,” she says. “It not only balances itself out, but actually opens up even more opportunities.”
To make sure start-ups are on top of their game and put people first, a founder wellness plan is offered to the start-ups in the thirteen week programme.
They can benefit from yoga, meditation and obtain nutritional advice as well as cooking demonstrations. There is also flexible working, PT sessions three times a week and four mental health days for when things get tough.
A personal development fund is also included where people get a certain amount of money to spend on things that are not directly related to your job, but will fulfil you as a person.
The healthy business
Gault believes having a healthy business is also about creating a good healthy environment for the team. “We feel it is really important that founders should be there to protect their team and to get them involved in everything they do,” she says.
“So they grow and learn how to run a business, [making them] entrepreneurial too. That is a really important thing for us, in how we help to build a culture. We have had quite a few start-ups come to us and say, you have really made me rethink my working day.”
Gault says start-ups often put pressure on themselves to achieve an unrealistic list of targets. But if employees give themselves some time out, by perhaps doing yoga, reading a book or going shopping, they can be so much more productive.
“The work that you do after that [will] be so much more focused,” she explains. “We always say that a healthy founder equals a healthy business – and, actually, mental health, wellbeing and inclusion have been shown to bring more money into the business.”
Start-ups should also show respect for their employees – Gault points out that they have taken a big risk to be part of a new business early on. Founders should also help the employees focus on their career goals.
“Don’t pay them off with a fancy job title,” says Gault. “Find a way where you can pay them more money. Also, enable them to feel they have recognition. They can see the impact their work does and they are rewarded for it, whatever way that is and whatever is right for your team.
“People are looking for the extras. Those extras don’t necessarily mean how they are going to directly impact the individuals, but how they are going to impact a team.”
Team retention is important too, Gault explains – statistics show that it is the exception today for someone to stay in the same workplace for longer than two years. But Gault thinks it is important for founders to keep their staff fulfilled in their jobs if they want them to stay. “Fundamentally, business is a series of relationships,” she says. “It always boils down to that.”