How to hire for bootstrapped digital startup?

Hiring for bootstrapped startup is always difficult, especially when you are building your prototype or incubating it using angel fund. A bootstrapped startup always goes through several challenges before they find the right people on board.

If you are one of those bootstrapped startup owners who is running or planning for his digital or tech startup, get ready to face the pain of your lifetime in finding the right set of people for your company.

And the below graphic would be sufficient to demotivate you further:

20 reasons startups fail

According to the above research by CB Insights, 23% of the bootstrapped startups shut down because they could not find the right team. So don’t worry, you are not alone in this pursuit.

With limited funds, poor office space (sometime no office space), lack of technology infrastructure (forget about the Macs, people would be lucky to get some decent Windows PC configuration), and absolutely no brand name, you just don’t have any negotiating or attractive proposition.

Also read: RIP Reports – Worldwide Failed startup trends

But like Friedrich Nietzsche has rightly said,

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Here are some suggestions ( I won’t call them tips), which I’ve figured out after working & consulting with different stage startups in my career:

Stop hiring people like yourself

One of the common aspect of most of the early stage startups, is that the founders have very limited or no experience in hiring in their career. Result? They end up hiring resources like themselves so that they feel most comfortable. Eventually, they end up building a team with similar shades of skills. Most of these resources join because of fancy designations offered by the founders.

Remember that you need people who are “go go go” types with 100-percent drive, and also people who are meticulous, detail-oriented and know how to create solid internal processes.

Stop looking for ‘only’ MBA’s or ‘only premier institutes’ candidates

MBAs bring a lot of value on the table for any early stage startup, there is no doubt about that. Polished communications, problem solving skills, fresh ideas etc. But over obsessive nature towards hiring only MBA’s would make your life miserable and could lead to delays in product and brand build up strategy. Look for key skills without which you would not be able to take off your dream, instead of just MBA. For e.g., if you are hiring for a new digital media company, look for candidates who have worked as a media planner in any advertising agency or who have handled marketing operations for any brands.

Also read: Why I Don’t Advise Bootstrapped Startups to Hire M.B.A.s by Vivek Wadhwa

Hire people who make you do something crazy

Another challenge for a lot of younger startup CEOs is that they don’t necessarily have a large enough network from which to pull talent that they need. New founders will often hire friends, and there are pros and cons to that.

On the one hand, there’s a huge amount of loyalty, and you can pull in friends who are in it to win it, and who back you 100-percent. On the flip-side, they might not fall into the normal lines of authority, or you could just end up with yes men who agree to things, even if the ideas are ridiculous. The key is to hire people who will tell you that you’re doing something crazy.

Here’s a must watch video on Bootstrapped Startup hiring strategy:

 

Piyush Aggarwal
Piyush Aggarwal is a Digital Leader @ Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH India) | Marketing Technologist | Analytics Specialist | Digital Trainer | Startup Consultant | Kindler | iPhone Photographer...So far So Good!
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