Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hiring For Startups And Planning For Growth

A startup is a little company that wants to be a big company. Hiring people who will be appropriate for the company at every stage of it's growth is almost impossible. Office Manager #1 is unlikely to become the Global VP of HR. Web Developer #1 is unlikely to become the Chief Platform Architect for a top 10 website. Even founders move on, because what makes an entrepreneur good at starting projects isn't the same skill set required to keep the wheels from flying off the train when the company hits 10,000 employees.

So, how do you hire now and plan for that person being around in a few years? Simple... don't try. Things that are nearly impossible aren't worth much effort. Abstinence only education doesn't make teenagers less horny, telling people to eat less and exercise more doesn't make them exercise, and trying to convince someone that your company with $0 in revenue will be the next Walmart is laughable.

If your business requires one person to run everything, you need a more robust strategy. If you design a process to be so hard that only a few people in the world can do it, make the process slightly less powerful and a lot easier to do. When you can't find talent to work for peanuts on your mission critical application, do it yourself or find a way to get more money (better yet, work on people getting people to like you because they'll work cheaper).

    So, here's how you keep your startup on track for growth without going crazy trying to find impossible talent...

  • Hire for right now (i.e. "Right now I need a Business Analyst who knows SQL.") Spend a few weeks trying to hire. If you can't find a person who is good enough, hire a consultant or a junior person and train them yourself. The consultant is more likely to self manage and get it done, and the junior person will (if you're lucky) grow into someone you can give increasing amounts of responsibility to.

  • If you REALLY need a special skill set, pay for it. Don't be cheap when it comes to your critical area. If you need an expensive rock star UI Designer, cough up the money. If you need a someone and can't find them, cough up a lot for the right recruiter. If you can't afford a recruiter and you can't afford the pay a super high salary for critical talent, you'd better have a friend that really wants to work for you. If you don't have that friend, go make one.

  • Don't worry about the education background your employees bring to the table. Read this smart guy Vivek Wadhwa's article on TechCrunch. If you really need someone from Harvard because they can tap into certain social circles, be prepared to pay big time and annoying stroke that person's ego in perpetuity.

  • Find people that are hungry, polite, motivated, self managing, and smart enough. When you see a special spark in someone, invest time in teaching them how things are done around your company. They'll appreciate knowing how to channel their energies and you'll get a lot more out of them. Remember, No Assholes.

  • Use the binary scale for measuring someone. Good enough OR not good enough. On OR off. Nice OR jerk. Can do the job OR can't do the job. This ties into trusting your instincts, too. I am willing to take a risk on this person OR this job seeker seems off for some reason.

  • Lastly, get good at getting rid of people while you keep them as allies. Help your Office Manager find another job. Introduce your Web Developer to a friend who pays more then you do. If you are The Boss, build a company that's sustainable without you, and then quit and go raise more money from the investors who helped you out the last time.

No comments:

Post a Comment