I first hired someone when I was 25. I also fired someone when I was 25. Having been through both processes, I can say it’s absolutely worth it to take your time and hire the right person than waste time hiring a person, training them, and then firing them. For those of you who have done it, it’s a lot of paperwork. If you’re in the process of hiring for your startup, here are five lessons I’ve learned in the past four years.
1. Don’t hire the first person that says yes. Hire the right person.
You just founded a startup, you have your co-founders, and now you want to expand the team. It’s incredibly tempting when you’re first starting out to hire the first people to say yes. I once asked a founder why she hired her first engineer. She replied, “He was the first person that believed in me.” Don’t let this be the main criteria on which you hire someone. Don’t get me wrong. Belief in the company is important, but also factor in skills, willingness to learn, drive, etc. I’ve seen this scenario turn into a mess of fights, disrespect, and a hefty severance package. Be careful and take your time.
2. Trust your gut.
I’ve hired and fired people. Trust me, hiring the wrong person and then firing them wastes time and is a whole lot of paperwork. If you can avoid calling an employment attorney who charges $500 an hour, do it. You will only really know in your gut if this person is right after you ask the hard questions. Make sure you’re prepared to ask the raw questions that will let you know quickly if this person is right for the job. If they run, let them go.
3. Hire Stephen Curry.
I highly doubt Number 30 will leave the Warriors to join your startup (not to mention ignite riots in the Bay Area). What I mean is hire someone who does exactly in your office as Curry does on the court. He’s a superstar who makes everyone around him up their game. This isn’t to say your current team members aren’t good, but someone like Curry has the ability to make them better. Hire Stephen Curry.
4. Don’t hire the 2004 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team.
I know, a lot of sports references here. This is important though. They were a group of superstars that didn’t play like a team. I’ve seen startups hire absolute rock stars, only to be faced with a rude awakening when they can’t work together. Of course there will be conflicts. Everyone has their own personalities, working style, and vision. The key is make sure your team members take ego out of the equation and know they can only go for the gold together. Because really, who wants a team that’s going for the bronze?
5. Cultural Fit.
I’m sure you have heard this term. Quite frankly, it’s bulls**t. Just because someone doesn’t attend “Taco Tuesdays” doesn’t mean they don’t fit in. The best companies are the ones that emphasize the notion that introvert or extrovert, young or old, engineer or lawyer, there is one key element to making the company succeed: a collective desire to succeed. Hire the person who clearly understands the job you need them to do coupled with the ability to work alongside various personality traits.
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