Hiring For Startups
One of the most formidable challenges in launching a successful startup is finding the right mix of talent, skills and attitudes to support your business model. I believe that great ideas only come to life with great people, so follow these Do’s and Don’ts and you’ll be in good shape on the ‘human capital’ front.
- Focus on skills. It can be tempting when you meet (or know) a smart, talented person that you’d love to have on the team and ‘gets it’. Unfortunately they’ll also need to experience a steep learning curve which it’s unlikely either you or your business can afford while battling your way to profitability. Stick with people you know can do the job right now AND are a fit with your culture and values.
- Use Freelancers. The skill requirements of your business will likely evolve very quickly and what’s needed today may not be essential tomorrow, so hiring some freelancers is worth considering. Accessing the freelancer market is easy, relatively cost effective and gives you enormous flexibility.
- Get the cultural fit right. With all of the above, it’s still essential to engage people that share similar values, interests and goals. They don’t need to be someone that you’d have over for dinner, but you must be positive that they’re someone with whom you can enjoy a productive and mutually beneficial working relationship.
- Be afraid to make changes. If you happen to have made a mistake in hiring someone for one of the reasons above, you need to move them on. Unlike larger companies where you have the luxury of retraining, medium term coaching or parking them out of the way, startups need every single person engaged and firing. There’s no room for passengers.
- Forget about development. Even the most experienced employee will want to be on a continuous learning curve, even if it’s not as steep as they may have enjoyed earlier in their career. Be sure to engage closely with permanent staff to understand their ambitions and interests so you can put in place an ongoing development plan that makes sense for all.
- Ignore Tangible Goals. It’s sometimes easy with a new business to be seduced by the idea that rapid evolution doesn’t require setting specific measurable goals for your business and staff. It could be argued that this is actually the time when key performance indicators are most critical. Measure, manage and adjust goals as necessary.
Embarking upon the startup path has been one of the most personally and professionally challenging times in my life, but it’s also amongst the most rewarding. Bringing a great idea to life is undoubtedly an exciting time, just don’t forget to ensure you have the team around you to ensure your maximize your chances for success.