A start-up is a nascent entity, which can’t afford to make too many (read any) mistakes. So, when it comes to deciding first hires for a start-up, one needs to be extremely cautious and vigilant. As a founder or an entrepreneur, I look out for a business partner and not just an employee. Hence while the employee must have business acumen and technology expertise, he must have passion and zeal to walk that extra mile. These are the few qualities that I look for in the first hires of my start-up.
It is very important for the employees to be self-motivated. Extrinsic factors may rarely be very encouraging. So unless the hire is able to keep himself motivated, take every failure as a challenge to start afresh, chances are fair that he either quits midway or drags the team along.
You are looking for business partners and not just employs. Hence these individuals must be trust worthy. They must value integrity and should be reliable enough to share business secrets and client confidential data.
Share your mission and vision
Your hires must not just look upto you for pay-checks at the end of the month. They must be your flag bearers. They must share the mission and vision of the company. It’s always best to provide stocks or shares to the employs. This gives them a sense of ownership and pushes them to work for the betterment of the organization.
Visionaries not Executive
I have never hired an executive who has managed big teams, because they are conditioned to work in structured formal environment. I have seen many seasoned executive breakdown when asked to work under ambiguity. A start-up hire should be visionary. He should be capable enough to think on his feet in the face of crisis.
Point Of View
Employees should have an independent point of view. A hire should not be a “Yes boss” man in meetings and should bring his point of view on the table. He must also volunteer to put forward ideas and suggestions for betterment of the organization.
This is a must have quality for a startup hire. Emotions run high in startups. So, if you say something in the heat of the moment, employee should not take things to heart. Also, start-ups have their own ups and downs. Hires should not let these affect their performance.
Low-cost labor isn’t always cheap
At start-up, we have tendency to go for low-cost labor. Most common mistake that founders commit is that they hire interns or entry level employees as they are cheap or even free. But there is an opportunity cost involved. You need to train them before they can be put to some productive work. And who in the start-up has time to train newbies. Hence one experienced resource can out-perform half a dozen interns.
Sir Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of The Virgin Group says he doesn’t hire people for their skills and qualifications. He hires them for cultural fit. It is not only essential that you get a pool of talented people but it is equally important that they work together as a team. Many a times, founders hire individuals with conflicting personality traits leading to a lot of conflicts and internal politics within the organization.
These are some of the quintessential qualities that start-up employees must have. While these qualities are desirable in the corporate employees as well , too much of it might make them rebellion.