How To Attract Better Talent: 14 Useful Tips For Startup Founders

Startup founders rely heavily on the skills of their initial hires. However, given the competitive nature of recruiting in many industries, attracting the best talent can be a challenge. Larger, more well-established companies usually offer better compensation in terms of both pay and perks.

It’s a tall order to make the opportunities working for a startup provides more alluring to highly skilled professionals than other, potentially more lucrative positions. To help, 14 leaders from Forbes Coaches Council look at ways to attract better talent to your startup and keep them on your payroll.

1. Be Authentic And Unique

Be authentic. Be you! By being unique, you will hire talent that wants to explore and try new things. Today’s startups are all about innovation and new ideas. And by creating an environment that is not cookie-cutter, companies will be able to attract team members and customers alike who can think outside the box and support the organization’s growth. – Parul Agrawal, GrowthMedia.AI

2. Show Them Other Opportunities

Make the talent part of a team and show them their opportunities. When you are on a sports team, you get to try other positions. Let your talent dip their toes into other parts of the business that interest them but lie outside of their expertise. This will allow them to grow professionally with the business and make them feel exhilarated to be part of an amazing team. – Jacquelyn Van Tuyl, JVSolutions LLC

3. Have A Solid Founder Story

Make sure that your founder story is solid so that your talent can empathize with it and see how they can hook into this shared story and vision. It requires a leap of faith and trust to join a startup. You’re asking people to take on a mountain of work on faith that they’ll be well-compensated in the end, so make sure they can tune into your vision and your “why” early and often. – Kate Peters, Bright Voyage Leadership

4. Have A Truly Compelling Purpose

Working on a truly compelling purpose for the company can, if well-articulated, help recruit great talent. Great talent is more about potential, and potential is driven by learning beyond current capabilities or performance. Focus on the pace and triggers of learning in interviews. Have a team structure that works as a connection to team-driven engagement so that you are more likely to retain the talent. – Jeffrey Cohen, Performance Leaders, LLC

5. Focus On What They Want In A Job

Too many entrepreneurs expect people to be thrilled about the startup ride, but it’s not really their ride. Focus on what is important to them instead of expecting them to work hard to help you achieve your dream vision. Some examples to consider are flexible schedules, growth opportunities, volunteer opportunities, social responsibility and networking. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

6. Emphasize Flexibility And Autonomy

Emphasize the flexibility, autonomy and meaning of the role. Those attributes are hard to find and highly desirable. Learning opportunities and a chance to build mastery in their own professional growth is attractive to talented people whose desire is to get better at what they do. Those are the ones you want. – Jessica Hartung, Treelight Productions

7. Look For Values That ‘Match’ Yours

Your values must be intentional. Make values a part of all you do. Attracting the right employees is an important part of ensuring that your team lives and breathes the values you work hard to promote. By finding “matching” core values in people you hire, aligning your firm’s image and messaging and being intentional, you will create a team culture of successful, like-minded and diverse teammates. – Jay McDonald, Middleton McDonald Group, Inc.

8. Hire For Attitude And Curiosity

Hire for attitude and curiosity in addition to competence. In a startup, a jack-of-all-trades is incredibly valuable, but only if they actively pursue what they don’t know and have a tenacious and positive attitude. The intensity of a startup should never be underestimated. Those who wake up each morning believing that they will be successful are invaluable assets to add to the team. – Evan Roth, Roth Consultancy International, LLC.

9. Always Be Recruiting

You have to always be recruiting. Interview a lot of people and know what you’re looking for. Know the type of person you want in your company and the type of character you’re looking for in them. This may require both a recruiter and reaching out to your network. Always remember: If you want to be great, you have to hire great. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience

10. Ask Your Rock Stars For Referrals

Find your current rock stars. Offer them a sizable bonus to find another person to come work for you. Listen, your people—whom you love, and who love working for you—should be your ambassadors. Lean on them for their networking power. – Natasha Ganem, Lion Leadership

11. Articulate Your Vision With Passion

Articulate your vision and work-life values with passion. Entice someone to work with you when they see what you want to do. Little attention is paid to the spirit of the job in traditional recruiting methods that seek only the talent, not talent and personality. The most successful hires on an entrepreneurial team occur when someone joins because of the vision and culture, not the role or the money. – Maryann Billington, Action Leadership Group LLC

12. Communicate How You’re Different

Clearly communicate how your company differs from the competition. I recommend establishing a coaching culture and explaining how you create and maintain it. Describe how you focus on growing people as well as profit. Operationalize how you grow people in your company. Setting yourself apart as an employer can encourage better talent to move you to the top of their list. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

13. Know Your Gaps And Blind Spots

Understand your own strengths and what you are personally missing that you will need to move forward. Depending on the role you are trying to fill, it will depend on how you form the job ad to attract the right candidate. Complete a job profile to further define the characteristic needs of the job, then match these to the behavioral needs of the candidate. Know your gaps and blind spots to move the business forward. – Shelley Smith, Premier Rapport

14. Create A Fun Environment That Promotes Growth

You have the ability to let your team run with it. Compared to working for a large company, in a small firm they can be exposed to more, learn faster and see the results of their choices more clearly. For many people, that is really attractive. Look for people who fit the bill and want to be challenged and grow. – Brad Federman, PerformancePoint LLC

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1. Combine Gifts, Passions And Innovation

Know who you are today by doing a fresh analysis of your gifts and passions. Use the results of your analysis as your lens for identifying unmet needs in the business world. Think outside the box by breaking away from conventional wisdom. Combining your gifts and passions with innovative ideas is foundational to a successful business that meets your and your consumers’ needs. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

2. Gain Clarity And Choose Metrics For Success

I’ve had numerous pro-service clients do this, and most of them have considered it. The most important thing is to have clarity about why you want to start a business. The second thing is to very carefully choose the metrics that will indicate to yourself that you are succeeding. Your “why” and your metrics will keep you grounded when the going gets tough—and it will. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

3. Leverage Your Experience And Do A SWOT Analysis

Know your strengths, be clear on your personal motivation and leverage your current experience and insights that you have developed over the years in your industry. Think about the pains and gains your clients have experienced and gaps that have not been filled. I also recommend doing a SWOT analysis to gain clarity and alignment and to determine the value proposition. – Breshana Miller, Kairos Coaching & Consulting, LLC

4. Brainstorm With Close Friends

You can’t hesitate or keep your new business too close to your chest. You need to brainstorm with your closest friends, your professional network and those whom you trust. Bounce your ideas off of others and see if they resonate. What do they think your new business is worth? Who do they think the customers would be? Do they know someone who would buy? Have that conversation 100 times and get to work. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

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5. Match The Commercial Proposition With The Value You Offer

It is important to match the commercial proposition with the value that you are offering. Before leaving, start researching the potential market to ensure there is a real need. When you are clear on the commercial viability, you can reverse-engineer the process to ensure the proposition fits with your personal drive and passion. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service

6. Have A Strong Support System In Place

Being an entrepreneur and working for a corporation require different mindsets. To sustain the personal drive and passion, it helps to have a strong support system in place—people who are just as passionate and driven as you and believe in the success of the new business, such as friends, a mastermind group or an experienced coach who can ensure there is a balance between work and personal well-being. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach

7. Don’t Follow Your Passion—Bring It To An Opportunity

Don’t follow your passion. I’d rather you bring your passion and drive to an opportunity. The first step is finding a way to improve lives in exchange for profit, then apply your natural passion and drive to improve as many of those lives as possible as efficiently as possible. Because when you do that really well, vision, momentum, growth and, eventually, profit are the results. – David Robertson, Growthpoint Coaching Co.

8. Leverage What Makes You Irreplaceable

You need to clarify the market need for what you do via research, interviews and more. In regard to fulfilling your own needs, a reflective, holistic approach is required to uncover your own personal wants, needs and values to be successful. And above all else, you must uncover something that makes you irreplaceable in the market that you serve. Get all those right and then go for it! – Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

9. Connect With Your Four Selves

First connect with your four selves—intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical—and be crystal clear about your purpose and commitment to it. Launching a new venture requires all your energy and commitment. Sometimes, it’s rough. Second, get deep input and feedback from those around you—both your trusted network and your more fearless critics. The wider the scope, the richer the insights. – Luis Costa, Luis Costa – coach · facilitator · speaker

10. Enroll Clients To Help Craft Your Company Vision

Get connected to your purpose, build a business plan around your core values and enroll the customers you want to serve to help craft the company vision. In doing this, you will likely find that your needs and the needs of your future customers are very aligned. Trust that a successful launch will follow and that you will have a tribe of allies ready to offer guidance and support when needed. – Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching

11. Outline The Customer Journey And Your Sales Funnel

First, outline the customer journey to define the scope of their need. Second, outline your marketing and sales funnel. If you are not excited to do that, hire someone who is or don’t launch. If the idea of selling and marketing for hours every week does not excite you, pursue a hobby instead. Third, if you don’t have the drive or passion to build a business, get a dog. The dog will love you back every day. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

12. Experiment With A Minimum Viable Product

Take small steps. Too many people get sucked into the entrepreneurial dream without realizing how tough it can be. I would suggest experimenting with the product—take a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market and get feedback. Leaning on your personal drive, experiment with your own business identity. Too many people overestimate their passion and drive and underestimate the challenge. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Take An Inside-Out Approach

Start with your mission and vision. I believe, as a coach, taking an inside-out approach where executives can start exploring their passion as well as what they would see as success for this new endeavor is key. Then, we can explore the marketplace and how this would be sustained as a successful business by developing a strategic business plan. Allow your personal drive to set the tone for success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

14. Build A Business Around Your Retirement Dreams

Start by thinking about your retirement. If you grew your business and sold it for a killing, what would you then be doing in life? At that point, when you wouldn’t have to think about money and profits, what would you be doing with your time? That’s what you should build your business around. It’s bound to be an area where a strong customer or market need is coupled with your own passion and drive. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

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