Do not over-sell while hiring for your startup

Ask any Founder of a startup about the biggest challenges one encounters in running a new business and most likely the reply would be to hire the best fit. It is the team that matters at the end of the day. It is the biggest differentiator between an average and a superb company.

Why is hiring such a big deal? While there are several reasons, one of the important ones is finding the right fit. It is because anyone looking for a job has a tendency to look for an established company, if not the leading global MNC. A startup, especially in the early stage, is still figuring out lot of things – one being the exact business model itself. While the Founder may be in love with the concept, the new person coming into the team may or may not share that vision. Add insecurities of losing job if the startup gets sold off to a bigger company or worse still gets shut, significantly reduces the number of people applying for jobs in a start-up.

But then how are the start-ups doing so well in India? It is because the smart entrepreneurs do not hire anyone and everyone they can get their hands on. A hard look at the team of the top e-commerce and technology start-ups would show that average age of their core team is less than 28 years. Why do start-ups tend to choose younger ones has a strong reason. A fresh mind is willing to work hard, is flexible with the timings and also would be eager to learn. The problem on the other hand with some of the experienced lot is that they “know more”. And there is a fair risk that they would undermine the authority of the founders leaving not much scope for innovation. Though being young is not a guarantee for being a better fit in a start-up, the fact is that most new businesses do prefer young team.

As a start-up one needs a team member that discusses, debates and brings in new thoughts and not becomes a drag on day-to-day working claiming, “s/he has been there, done that”.Founder of a new venture should not be swayed by the fancy degrees of the applicants. When a company is new, it grows really fast. It needs “doors” that get the job done, irrespective of which big brand they come from. At the interview stage itself, the focus must be more on the “culture-fit” than on the work experience. A college dropout might do wonders for your company than an Ivy league graduate.

An avoidable mistake many start-ups make in order to convince a good talent is by over-selling the benefits of working in their company. In over-zealousness the Founder might promise them bigger roles, better pay-packages, big incentives and promotions, even though they themselves might not be fully convinced whether what they are proposing is right or not. This might be suicidal for your business. Complete transparency while hiring would help in better hiring.

It is okay to hard-sell but over-selling is always harmful. Both for those looking to work in a start-up, as well as a Founder looking to hire a talent.

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  • Mitesh Sanghvi

    Hey Ritu, you’ve shared a great insight and surely an important one. I need to share my experience too. Can you get me in touch. I’ve started my own venture to help new startups and have years of experience in this industry 🙂

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