3 Gruesome Hiring Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make And How You Can Fix Them
- By Rahul Varshneya
- November 12th, 2012
Ask an entrepreneur who has recently embarked on the journey what their biggest challenge is. You may have thought it’s about getting the first client or marketing to their target audience.
This is where you are wrong. Time and again, most entrepreneurs speak of their #1 challenge as recruiting people. It’s not about finding clients, finding partners, reaching out to the target audience. It’s about hiring people.
When you begin hiring for your startup, chances are you will make a lot of mistakes. In Howard Schultz’s words, “Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you need to cut your losses and move on.”
Hire slow, fire fast!
Here are the most common and some gruesome mistakes that entrepreneurs make and how you should steer clear of these to get the right fit for your startup.
Mistake #1 – Not Checking For Startup Readiness
Most entrepreneurs hire professionals based on their skill sets. You need much more than the best in the industry in a specific area. You need problem solvers.
Look for someone who not just will do their job right, but also help you with many other things at the same time. Look for professionals who will come to you with solutions and not problems. Look for startup ready professionals.
Fixit: How do you look for a startup ready professional? One way is to assess why the person wants to work for a startup. Look for previous startup experience; you may want to stay away from people who have worked mostly with large corporations. Make it clear to them what to expect when they join.
Another way is to check how they solve a problem. Give them a task to do but don’t provide details. Leave it up to the candidate to ask for more information and suggest ideas. Check for communication, articulation, thinking and creative problem solving. Doers.
Mistake #2 – Offering ESOPs As Bait
You are a startup. Unless you’re funded from day 1, you don’t really have a clue about valuation. You cant even put a number to it. The most common misguided advice to startup entrepreneurs is to offer ESOPs to their founding team.
Let me tell you this, the reality is that your potential employees don’t care about it. Not the ones who are joining as the founding team. What they care about is the cash in their pockets or their take-home salary.
While you may be passionate about your idea/product/service, you’re probably going to fail. If they’re startup ready, they probably know about this fact.
Fixit: while you are starved for cash in your initial days, you still have to pay salaries. Hire a person you trust can make a difference to your venture and pay them what they deserve. Don’t cringe. It takes more than guts for the founding team to work for a startup.
Did you know that Sourcebits, a popular mobile app development company, with a revenue of $12,000 hired one Apple award designer at a salary of $5,000 a month. And boy did it pay off! They went on to make the Night Stand application ($0.99), which received 3 million downloads within 3 months of launch.
Better bait is to offer a retention bonus to your founding team, payable at the end of a fixed term, say a year.
Mistake #3 – Not Sharing Your Passion
Making your hiring process clinical is a gruesome mistake! Hiring has to be a personal experience. It has to be anything but a process. Of course, you will have your technical evaluation to filter out the candidates.
If you don’t show passion about your startup, it’s unlikely they will show it either. And at this stage, what you’re looking for is passion. Excitement. Aspiration.
Fixit: Once you have shortlisted and meet the candidates, don’t forget that while you are evaluating them, they are also evaluating you. Show them the excitement that you have towards building your product/service/company.
Show them your passion towards the building blocks that you are piecing together. Tell them about the challenges that you are facing doing so. See how they react. And hire the ones who seem excited about it.
Lastly, when you do find the right fit, act quickly. If you’re in the technology space, you’d probably identify with this the most. Strike when the iron is hot. You need to show to the candidate that your startup is quick in decision-making.
The overall hiring process should take not more than 7-10 days and if you like the candidate, roll out the offer and look for a response in 24-48 hours. The right ones will be back at you in that period and the rest don’t matter.