Early-stage companies aren’t the right fit for everyone, and it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you’re thinking about adding new team members. Below, you’ll find the five characteristics that we think best embody great entrepreneurial talent.
Grit encompasses that “can do” attitude which must be present in all startup employees. The hours are long, and there is a ton of work to get done, so it’s vital to have a team who doesn’t mind rolling up their sleeves and pitching in. Try to identify candidates that don’t mind going above and beyond their job description. Furthermore, there is a lot of failure at the beginning of a startup. You’re building a new company from the ground-up, and there will be bumps and bruises that come along the way. You’ll want to have a team of coworkers who can weather those storms, and continue pushing the company forward.
Bias Towards Action
You really can’t say enough about the importance of proactive employees. When you have a team that operates with a bias towards action, you’ll learn more about your business so much more quickly. Yes, it’s important to define your business strategy, and yes it’s very important to understand what you still need to learn or what assumptions you still need to test. But, at the end of the day, if you have a team of thinkers and planners, you’ll never complete the work that will give you answers to those important questions. Find talent that is comfortable acting with 65% or 75% total knowledge. People who wait to take action until they know for certain what they’re doing will waste valuable time and resources, and will slow the rest of your team down.
Priorities can change quickly at fast-paced startups. In fact, it’s a near guarantee that no single day will look or feel quite like any other. Recognize that this environment is different than the cyclical nature of work you might find a larger, more established company. In the early days of your business, you’ll need employees who can operate in a space of ambiguity. Try to identify those people that can quickly process information. As you discover more about your customers, and the pain points you’re solving for them, you’ll want employees who can process that information and use it to influence their actions.
We probably all have horror stories about an ex-coworker who was a nightmare to work with. Did you know that most companies tend to hire for technical skills and experience, while they tend to fire for human qualities and behaviors? While every role should require a base level of skill, you also want to pay attention to each candidate’s ability to collaborate. Startups face enough obstacles to success, the last thing you need is strife inside of your organization. During interviews, ask candidates about their past experience working in teams – times when they were successful, and times when they had to deal with a difficult teammate. Also, pay attention to how they hold themselves accountable for deliverables.
Successful teams are made up of talented people, who are driven to getting smarter and better at what they do. During interviews, I love to ask candidates, “what do you like to do in your free time.” I want to identify those individuals who are studying new topics or building new skills that will expand their tool belt. Identifying individuals who have a passion and drive for self-improvement will help your company flourish. They will see “unowned” tasks as an opportunity to stretch their skill set. A coworker that has the ability to pick up new responsibilities and wear multiple hats is worth their weight in gold.