Advice from Sonya Sepahban

on Building a Strong Team for Startup Entrepreneurs.

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Sonya Sepahban, a strong supporter of women in Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and angel investor with the Michigan Angel Fund (MAF) shares her ideas on how to build a strong base for beginner entrepreneurs.



It comes as no surprise that diversity is key to success in team building.  Not just gender and cultural diversity, it is also about having different backgrounds (social, interests…).  Research has shown how diversity will boost the potential for success in businesses, as described in this article from worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

All in all, diversity in a team will enable you to tap into a wide-ranging set of solutions to problems an enterprise will bump into from time to time.



So, once you have your brilliant idea, surround yourself with great people.  Find folks that will support you and be a resource to you.  Network!  Find people who can mentor you and advise you during your path to establishing your business.  Go to gatherings where you can meet people with whom you can exchange ideas and from whom you can get help.  The more folks you talk to, the better the feel you get in the field you are going into.


Get ready for your investors

Of course, you also need to find investors.  But then you really need to show them you have done your homework about knowing your own strengths and weaknesses in your business.  For that you have to be honest with yourself and know your limitations:  you can’t be great in all areas!  You need to be aware of the things that will not work in your business.  All the while knowing where you are not so strong, focus on what you are good at, as Guy Kawasaki keeps telling the entrepreneurs he mentors.



Another point Sonya Sepahban emphasized: Be communicative with your team.  The most successful businesses are the ones where there is the most transparency.  Talk, ask questions, discuss things.  Create an environment where ideas can flow.  And communicate with your network: they can be your best soundboard to help you succeed.  The more you communicate, the greater the relationships you can establish with your supporters and your investors.


Be a listener

Then also learn to be a great listener.  This is where you can be a sponge to other people’s ideas and knowledge, to benefit you and your business.  Take time to just hear what people have to offer you.  If it’s something that you find hard to do (as it is for so many!), here are two short articles that outline the essentials in improving this skill.  First, just 3 simple ideas.  And then there are the 6 tips on becoming better at listening.


Be tenacious

Now you have your team, your network, and your investors.  You communicate and listen to your supporters’ input.  But business can take time and patience to get established.  This is where Sonya stresses how important tenacity to anybody starting a new business.  You must believe in your ideas.  Be tenacious in the process.  Develop your own way in feeling comfortable in the process, despite the possible failures.  There will be times of doubts and loneliness.


I highly recommend you listen to her podcast which you can find below. It is chock-full of great ideas that you don’t want to miss.

For more investor podcast episodes with the startup accelerator Expect Dojo, go to


So, bring on the ideas!  Be tenacious!  Hang in there!