When trying to get a startup off the ground, so much time and effort goes into developing the product and reaching the customer, that founders often forget about the most important part of the companyâ€”the team. Itâ€™s no secret that a strong and dedicated team is the key to growing a successful business, but building that team can be challenging. Scaling a company for rapid growth is a difficult process, but Iâ€™ve picked up some important lessons about hiring along the way.
You may remember the immortal words of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, “A.B.C: Always be closing.” Iâ€™ve modified that line a bit to mold it to our hiring strategy; A.B.L: Always be looking.
During our first year, after getting Rukkus off the ground, we recruited based on need. Whenever a position came up that needed to be filled, we began searching for a candidate. What I didnâ€™t realize was how long it could take to find, interview, hire, and eventually onboard a new employee.
Hereâ€™s how to implement our strategy for your own company.
Always Be Looking
When youâ€™ve got a small team as it is, the process can also take a lot of man-hours, which distracts you from working on the product itself. Eventually, I started to view the hiring process as a distraction. Clearly, this isnâ€™t the right mindset while seeking out the best talent, so I came up with an alternative method. Instead of waiting until we have a need, we started to create a pipeline of great candidates that we stay in touch with.
Now, weâ€™re always searching for candidates, even when we donâ€™t have a direct need at that moment. This way, we can build relationships and improve the odds of making the best hire. By building a prospect Rolodex, weâ€™ve essentially eliminated the usual matrix that exists where we have to be actively hiring for a position and the candidate has to be in job-search mode. The pipeline allows us to exploreâ€”and open a dialogue withâ€”future candidates that we might not need right away, and who sometimes might not be in the job market yet.
Keep It DIY
Another big lesson I learned early onâ€”and some might not want to hear itâ€”was to work as hard as you can to bring talent in-house. Outsourcing might seem like a cheap and quick solution for bootstrapped startups, but it often comes at a price. Consultants and outsourced work are usually pretty narrow in their scope of work. In other words, you assign them a specific task, and they complete it to the best of their ability. Rinse, wash, and repeat. This may work for a few projects here and there, but when growing a company, it isnâ€™t sustainable.
Manick Bhan, a former banker at Goldman Sachs, is the CEO and CTO at Rukkus.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North Americaâ€™s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.