Weekly briefing 12-7/9″/dt1st/mark2nd The stock market might love Internet start-ups, but not all employees do. In a tight market for Web-design talent, it can be very difficult for non-established companies to recruit. KidsOnLine.com, a recently formed offshoot of Internet incubator Idealab, is dealing with the problem. Chief Executive Steve Damron discussed the matter with Karen Teitelman. We were formed in September of ’98 and we are currently five full-time employees. We provide premier, safe services for kids on the Internet. We presently have two sites, one is KidsOnLine.com, and the other is Kids1000.com. KidsOnLine is a place for children to hang out, meet with each other and play games. Kids1000 provides links to many Web sites that are for children. My biggest problem has really been with the expectations of my staff. In hiring people for the various positions engineering, content and marketing I have to convince them to come into this start-up situation, a situation that is risky. This is a dynamic environment where the technology, distribution and competitive landscape change overnight. I have to sell people on the vision of the company and what we are trying to provide for kids, and present to them the fact that the vision may change overnight in response to the market. People came on board thinking they would be making up their own pages with original stuff. We weren’t able to do that because we found we needed to focus on breadth as opposed to depth on our sites. We were doing things like working on hooking our sites to other sites, and developing user interfaces with other sites. Once we have our family of sites up, the content people will be able to go back and develop their own stuff. It’s been difficult for me to convince them to work on a family of sites, rather than one site full of original content. One of the things that I have learned in running a small company is to use storytelling in order to communicate to people, especially about what’s changing and how we need to respond. I give them a story that they can tell to other people in order to explain why they are doing something other than what they thought they would do when they came on board. If they can understand and relate to why the company is changing, they are more willing to adjust and take on new assignments and tasks.