THE GOLDEN CHILD OF START-UPS — HIRE ROCK STARS LIKE HARRY’S
Finding the right employees to fit your business is crucial for any company — but never more so than in a start-up environment. In such a small, new company, hiring the best employees can make our break your company. Do you want to be a nobody, brushed off the market as soon as you enter, or a global leader with the best talent on staff?
We already know that hiring the wrong employees can be majorly costly across the board. But things only get more dire when you look at statistics on start-ups. According these articles in Forbes and Fortune:
80% of entrepreneurs who start their own businesses fail within the first 18 months
Overall, 9 out of 10 start-ups fail
23% of start-ups fail because they don’t have the right team
But there is that one company — or that 10% — that does succeed. And that more often than not comes down to the first several hires and the reason they were hired.
The Harry’s Golden Example
Harry’s online, inexpensive shaving company is a start-up that has not just stayed alive but has thrived. It has raised more than $100 million in equity and expanded in the U.S. and Germany.
The CEO of Harry’s, Jeff Raider — who was also behind innovative eyeglass retail start-up Warby Parker — told The Wall Street Journal that Harry’s success has a whole lot to do with its hiring strategy.
“I fundamentally believe that culture in a company is set in your first 10 to 15 hires,” Raider told The Wall Street Journal. He went on to discuss how he hired those first few employees.
“I think what’s incredibly important with first employees is that they’ve bought into the vision of the founders,” Raider said. “They need to be able to develop strong working relationships with the founders and have the utmost integrity. The founders need to trust them and know they will be amazing managers for people on the team.”
For Harry’s, Raider lays out three key components every potential initial hire should possess — specific to the Harry’s brand and culture.
Passion: “For me, the most important thing about people on our team is that they are passionate about our company and our mission”
Need for global impact: “I think people who are genuinely excited about having a huge impact on the world — and we’re trying to have a huge impact on the world I think is important because it’s an intrinsic motivator”
Community-minded: “We look for people who want to do good in the community”
Amazing skill sets
So what can we learn from Harry’s hiring? Every company and start-up is different, with different values, missions, and culture. But all start-ups — and even companies further along in their lifecycle — can learn four important lessons from Harry’s hiring strategy:
Know Your Culture and Hire Accordingly
Harry’s was a start-up that knew what it was and wanted to be, and it hired people accordingly. According to a third article in Forbes, 89% of hiring failures are due to poor cultural fit. If you’re a start-up not hiring toward finding the best fit for your values and goals, you’re doing it wrong. Harry’s finds people who not only fit the culture but who embody it with their passions and excitement, who find value in helping the start-up achieve success. Every company should be looking for this.
Ignore Those Impressive Job Titles
Not once did Raider mention that he hired former CEOs, CFOs, and other C-suite executives. In fact, he didn’t mention job titles at all. Harry’s looks past the job title and looks directly at the behaviors and personalities of the potential candidates. Sure, it may look impressive when a potential hire has a high-level job title, but it doesn’t actually say much about attitude, motivation, or even job success. And overlooking those things can be a killer for a start-up.
Everyone Matters in a Start-Up
You can’t hire anyone “extra.” There’s no fluff in a start-up. Every single person your company hires must be committed to driving the vision you have set forth and helping the company succeed. In an interview with TechRepublic, CEO and founder of Superfish, Adi Pinhas, lays this out perfectly:
“In a start-up, everyone must deliver. No exceptions,” Pinhas said. “Founders should not be impressed with people with amazing titles nor from the big name company that they are coming from. Founders need to make sure that the candidates are ‘doers.’”
Another way to put this is to choose employees whose strongest asset is their resourcefulness. They may not have the direct job experience or skill to immediately solve a problem or help a customer, but they’re quick on their feet, aggressively seek out answers, and are practical.
In a start-up, people have to multitask and wear a lot of hats. Notice Harry’s CEO didn’t say “an amazing skill,” but “amazing skill sets.” You want to ensure you hire employees that can handle the load.
Find Employees Who Want to Make an Impact
There’s no time to shuffle papers around in a start-up. With few employees who are multitasking to work toward a common goal, your first hires should be committed to making an impact. This doesn’t mean just within the day-to-day of office life but within the wider community and globe.
Harry’s is committed to helping out the community, having employees devote part of their time to volunteering with the skills they learned on the job. The company is also devoted to its global footprint.
According to Deloitte,60% of millennials say “a sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose a new job. Workers want to matter and give back; combine forces to make this purpose part of your start-up. This passion fuels productivity in the worker and success for the start-up.
The hard fact is most start-ups fail. But by hiring right, you can save yourself from being another sad statistic.