When you’re in a startup, the first 10 people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Making poor hiring decisions is one of the most common reasons for startups to fail.
Steve Jobs famously said: “Make sure you’re hiring only A-players. Hire a few B-players and they hire B`s and C`s, and pretty soon the whole operation is going to pot.” Therefore define what you are looking for before you hire and then go out there and scout the best.
2. Great mission
A great vision and a compelling mission is your recipe for greatness. Hire candidates who believe in your mission and are ready for a rollercoaster journey. Tell them why the position is so important and what they can get out of it. Be honest and open.
3. Elevator Pitch
As you will be constantly looking for great talent you have to make sure you have your Elevator Pitch always ready. Why will your candidate be great at your company, why join and what is in it for him.
The dream, the vision, and sense of accomplishment, is what you need to sell to people as a startup. Vision is key in any company and is often what drives its success. Hire only people who share that vision and believe in it.
4. Exciting Workplace
People work in startups for the learning curve, quick results and having an actual impact on change. It is not for the long hours or lower salary you are likely to get compared to established corporations. Therefore build an exciting workplace and create an open and honest culture.
Finding great talent is also about networking and who you know. It is all about getting out there and being social. Attend networking events and meet people. Stay connected, build relationships and invite new contacts to some of your events to show them what an amazing company you are building.
“Culture is a lot more like gardening than architecture”, as Ben Silbermann from Pinterest said, and it is part of your employer brand. The first 10 employees are the ones who define your culture and will also be the future leaders in your organization.
Look for cultural fit, rather than just their skills. Hire people you see yourself spending 14 hours or more a day with. It should become like a close family, especially at the beginning.
Make sure your candidates have a startup mentality. It is very hard to get someone out of a safe and well-paid job into the risky startup environment. People join startups for their mission and the learning curve.
Their motivation comes from building and releasing something that your user base will love. It is not for the hours and the lower pay. So find people who really love startups and join it for the vision.
Sometimes hiring can take weeks or months to find the right person and you need to be aware of that. Be constantly looking out for great talent, as it is an important factor of your success. Hiring is an opportunity game and if a good candidate gets available you should be there to hire him.
Make sure you use all channels you can think of. Go to meet-ups and join different forums. Search on social & professional networks and join groups there. Speak to people in the field you are recruiting for, ideally high-profile people. Find out the key traits of an ideal candidate and where to find them and ask for referrals or introductions from friends, mentors, advisors and board members.