Let start right off the bat by saying, Yes, you do need good people. What you, your company and most other startups out there do not need is the very best people. Most founders know this idea to be true, but can fall into the trap of trying to hire as if it’s false. You interview one person who sounds good, followed by another who is slightly different but also a good fit. You do that enough times, and you start raising your standards too high. Looking for the best can turn into a slippery slope of raising the bar, setting too high of standards and trying for more than your need. This is not always the case, but if so, it is not difficult to get out of this mindset. Because really, what is ‘The Best?’
The Best is Unrealistic
Of the tens of thousands of tech startups in operation right now, the reality is that only a few end up with what we consider the best tech talent. This does not mean that you shouldn’t aim for A-players, but looking for perfection early on can lead you down a bitter, lonely and employee-less road. Realism is crucial for startups, especially when it comes to getting talent.
The Best is Picky
Ok, they aren’t necessarily picky; they can just afford to be. When you have that kind of experience, expertise and caliber of skill, you also have the attention of every Tom, Dick and Harry (startup, tech company and recruiter, I guess). Naturally, top talent gets to pick from a very large pile, of which your company is an option out of thousands. So even if your company is great, if you’re not the most interesting, you’re going to have to pay for it.
The Best is Expensive
The cream of the crop, the top of the top and the best of the best come with a price tag, one with which they can find a job within 5 minutes. It’s a simple supply-demand equation that most bootstrapped startup have difficulty overcoming. In reality, the most well-funded and interesting startups and tech companies can nab the elite of the industry. They can afford this mindset, but many cannot.
The Best is Unnecessary
You may be thinking, ‘Well, we will just have to allocate a higher budget towards our employees then.’ Touche, perhaps, but the truth is that, for most startup organizations, the best of the best is simply more than they need. There are too many articles and blog posts out there shouting how if you don’t get the absolute best people, your company will either get set back two years or crash and burn at the earliest inconvenience. Such is more inexperienced recruiter sales pitch and less startup reality. Yes, you still need good people, but more importantly, you need the right people and team.
The Best is Not Always The Right
Cultural fit is the most important aspect of your hires. For a phrase like that to be borderline cliche, and let’s be honest in that it already is, you know that its truth rings loud and clear. What you never hear is a founder or manager saying ‘We need the very best person, even if our entire team hates them.’ The point being, just because a candidate is great at what they do, does not mean they are great for what your team does.
The Best is a Distraction
The time you spent looking for the unattainable, unaffordable, unnecessary or unconformable could have been spent looking for the right people at a lower cost using the right, albeit still high, standards. Look for employees with startup or small business experience, ambition, motivation, integrity and the skills and knowledge that you need right now. Find like minded people with similar passions and a belief in your vision. And don’t worry if they aren’t the ultimate rock stars of their profession.
You don’t need the best people. You just need really good people.