Tom Preston-Werner, Co-Founder of Github describes start-ups beautifully, “Bootstrapping is a way to do something about the problems you have without letting someone else give you the permissions to do them.”
Start-ups are about speed, passion, ambition and resolve to find a solution to a problem that does not have either a good solution or adequate solution yet. As organisations solve problems, they need people who are not only capable but also are excited about the purpose. People for start-ups are one of the major factors that determine success. It is extremely hard to attract the best minds to a bootstrapped company. How can such firms master the art and the science to get their hiring act right?
Leadership Team’s Commitment to Hiring
The founding team of the start-up is passionate about making their ideas work faster than anyone else who could be trying their hands at the same problem. Hence, the team is rightly anxious to see the results. However, many of them become impatient and create unbearable stress for themselves and their team members. More often than not, the stress creates negative energy and wears the enthusiasm and resolve among the team.
The desired approach is to be ambitious, agile and innovative; stretching the limits to outperform and set new benchmarks are inspirational stories that draw the attention of potential talent. At the same time, the leaders have to be pragmatic and set reasonable goals which the team believes in. The commitment to stretch goals is natural from the founding team; shaping those goals into reality is the challenge that the team has to be confident about.
Hence, the communication within the organisation, the culture of collaboration and quick course corrections are critical. The leaders have to demonstrate these and others have to see these in action.
Setting up a hiring organisation
Several legendary leaders have said on many occasions about their hands-on involvement in hiring key talent for their organisations in the early days of their evolution. The same applies to a bootstrapped organisation as well. As an organisation attains a critical size of 10 to 15 people, there is a need to accelerate attracting top talent and hence, the tactics and methods used in the first phase won’t work.
A dedicated organisation has to be set up to get the next set of people for the firm. This team could be outsourced or in-house, but the point is to dedicate this team to hiring and not distract them on other tasks for organisation building is no less critical or complex than building the solution for the problem statement. Many leaders tend to ignore this fact or de-prioritise it and end up hurting their growth journey and their future prospects.
Strong execution is required
As the hiring team is set, they have to develop an impactful value proposition for the potential talent. Sometimes, the value proposition might not be compelling enough and the founding team might not be cognizant of this fact. Hence, right at the start of this phase, the gaps have to be identified and worked upon. The founding team is always passionate about solving the business problem, however, it is not fair to expect that every new employee in the firm would demonstrate the same level of passion and belief in the story. Hence, it is important to craft a value proposition that is holistic right from the prospect of solving the business problem to career growth, benefits, compensation and work environment.
Once the story is built, it has to be communicated consistently to the right people. And the right media have to be used. For example, the use of videos, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and many such specialised focused platforms is commonplace these days.
Last, but not least, candidate experience is extremely critical not only for the short term but also for the long term to keep the organisation as an attractive destination for top talent. Use of the right tools for recruitment, proactive communication, speedy decisions and efficient assessment methods are must-have criteria for delivering positive brand recall among the target talent community.
Steve Jobs has famously said, “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”