The importance of the right talent for startup success

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair.

The quality of your team directly influences your startup’s performance, and finding the right talent is as important as having a winning product.

Every startup differs, but one constant remains – a talented team is essential to making progress and achieving success. For founders, however, one question lingers: is talent the culmination of hard skills, education and intelligence? Or is it something more?

You may think it’s as simple as hiring the person with the most experience or the highest degree, but for startups, passion reigns supreme. Employees with passion care about what the company does. To them, it’s more than just a job; it’s their startup, too. Fostering passion among your talent is key to building a foundation of loyalty and increasing employee retention.

How does a startup foster passion among its team?

When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

This statement rings true and passion is the driving force behind it. The good news for founders is that passion can be nurtured. And what’s more? It’s contagious.

Below are 3 tips for lighting the fire of passion in your team.

1. Build connections

Start with facilitating connections between your team members. Founders often take it for granted that putting everyone into the same room is enough, but that rarely suffices.

As a founder, you need to encourage your team to get to know one another on a more personal level and follow through by continuously creating opportunities for connections to be nurtured, at work and outside work. Set goals that the entire team can work towards. Encourage collaboration and dissemination of ideas on a regular basis.

2. Instil a purpose

Give your team a question to answer.

The book The power of pull, written by John Hagel and John Seely Brown, sums up this practice perfectly. It suggests that by positing the right questions to the workforce, you can draw their attention up from their day-to-day work and inspire deeper thinking and creativity.

3. Encourage growth

A growth mindset is particularly important to startups as it signifies the team’s willingness and ability to navigate chaos, pivot quickly and step out of their comfort zone. For such a mindset to flourish, you need to build a culture of growth.

Below are several practices you should incorporate into your processes to foster growth:

  • supporting the development of new interests and providing a framework for progression and upskilling
  • consistently evaluating growth and development and making changes when necessary
  • encouraging skill sharing among your team members and facilitating cross-departmental communication or training.

The right talent commits to your vision, advocates the mission and makes decisions that are in the best interest of your startup.

What attracts talent to a startup?

Most employees are attracted to the startup environment for its fast pace, vibrant culture, flat structure, opportunities to work on new, exciting technologies and the ability to bring their whole self to work.

But, finding the right talent is no small task. It’s not enough to be cool and fun. In most cases, it’s an ongoing investment of time and effort in attracting those who will stay and be as committed to your vision as you are.

How to attract the right talent for your startup

1. Have a purpose

As important as it is to instil a purpose into your team, it is even more crucial that you find a purpose before seeking talent for your startup.

Research reveals that an organisation has much to gain in terms of performance if its employees feel that their purposes align with their work. As individuals gain more meaning from their roles, they are typically more productive and resilient, and report higher levels of wellbeing.

The primary implication of these findings for a startup like yours is that before you start recruiting, you need to define your core values and purpose. Then, you should aim to reinforce these ideas in all your communications and incorporate them into your people process, be it recruitment, employee recognition or performance management.

2. Find the right channels

Networks seem to be the most popular source to search for talent among founders, be it family and friend circles or investor networks. Events and meetups also work. A strong network, coupled with the increasingly positive perception of the tech sectors, will help attract talent for your startup.

A majority of founders, on the other hand, still find recruiters helpful, particularly for filling technical roles. Recruiters can help you connect with prospective candidates who aren’t active in the market but are potentially suitable. They have established relationships and know better of the wants and needs of their talent. They will also help save time and resources on screening. The expenses of engaging recruiters can be an inhibiting factor, though the cost of a wrong hire is often much higher.

3. Be proactive 

Given the time it takes to secure great talent, being more proactive is key. Bring passionate people into your business whenever you find them, even if the role is still in formation.

Some founders rely on unconventional channels to connect with prospective candidates, for example, customer communities. Likewise, you can reach out to those within your own community who you think might be interested. Identify sectors, companies and job titles where your dream candidates come from and get in touch. Don’t wait around if you can build a relationship today.

Cultivate a pipeline of talent and always be on the lookout. Consider how you can gather referrals from your team as well.

4. Focus on employer branding

Your brand as an employer is essential to attracting the right talent, even at the early stage. An employer brand is the company’s personality and the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits. The strength of your employer brand can lead to a reduction in cost per hire, a higher number of applications and a faster hire rate.

It’s worth noting that your core team plays a significant role in developing and embodying your employer brand. A study confirms that, from a candidate’s perspective, a communal team climate is one of the most attractive attributes of working at a startup.

Before actively recruiting, you should work on articulating your employer brand and what makes your startup unique. Have a clear culture and vision to share with candidates. If possible, communicate and reinforce your values across all channels, be it your website, social media or during an event.

Want more information on finding the right people for your startup? Download this free study for further insights into how founders at Stone & Chalk have successfully recruited for their businesses.