Startups Must Hire The Right People

Startups Must Hire The Right People And Watch Every Penny. Or Fail

Michael Arrington / TechCrunch
Mar. 8. 2008

Startups Must Hire The Right People

Startups that hire incorrectly fail. They don’t probably fail, or maybe fail. They just plain fail.

You must hire the right people. In particular, the early employees
must be perfect. This is more important than anything else, including
the product or business idea. Perfect teams can adapt to failing
products or market/competitive issues and correct for that. That’s why
great teams tend to work together over and over again, and sometimes
start companies even before they know what the product will be.

The most important part of hiring correctly is to not hire the wrong
people. The second most important part of hiring correctly is to hire
the right people. What that means is that it is better to not hire
anyone at all if you can’t find the right person. And if your startup
fails, all the perks, time off and general coddling that many outraged
commenters called for isn’t all that useful.

So who are the right people and who are the wrong people? It’s not
that hard to tell. The right people are the ones that really, really
want to work with you. You can tell they’re excited to be a part of the
team. They actively look for problems to solve, and then solve them.
This is a personality type that is very easy to spot once you know what
to look for – they have fire in their eyes. They’re warriors.

I’ll take the fired up warrior any day over the more experienced but
otherwise meek alternative. Skills can be learned quickly on the job
(excluding certain specialized skills, which mostly means developers
for a young startup). But if you aren’t already the kind of person
who’ll just get the job done no matter what, you’ll likely never be.

Warning signs to look out for during an interview: people who care
about status symbols like titles, people who resent the success of
others, people who act like they’re doing you a favor by talking to
you. And people who want to negotiate salary endlessly but couldn’t
care less about the stock options.

If you hire badly, it isn’t just that employee who’s not performing.
They poison the entire organization. If everyone is pushing hard to get
a product out the door, but one sulking individual is passive
aggressive about working late, morale drops across the company. It
spreads like cancer.

I’m not saying you should chain people to the desk. I’m not saying
you should make them work 24 hours a day. What I’m saying is that you
should hire people who work 24 hours a day because there is nothing
else they’d rather do. If you’ve got a product to launch and you’re
ultimately trying to disrupt a bigger and better funded company, it’s
likely that you are going to need a superhuman effort from the team. I
doubt Google’s early employees complained about the hours (and take a
wild guess as to why Google gives employees free lunch and free

If something about this doesn’t sit well with you, that’s ok because
you are part of the vast majority of people out there who have an
appropriate work-life balance. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It
just makes you a bad hire for a resource-strapped startup that needs a
team of kick ass all-stars to have a hope in hell of succeeding.

The bottom line is this. The only people in the world that should
feel warm and fuzzy around you are your customers/users. Your employees
don’t want to feel warm and fuzzy. They want to win. If they are
warriors, they’ll respect what you are doing and follow you into the
wee hours of every morning to mark their place in history and fill
their bank accounts with stock option dollars.

Watch Every Penny

Startups cannot waste money. If they do, they’ll fail. As I said
above, they don’t probably fail, or maybe fail. They just plain fail.

Continue at TechCrunch here

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