How to foolproof your digital startup hiring strategy?

digital startup hiring strategy

I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.

~ Lawrence Bossidy (Former COO of GE and author)

I wish I could’ve mailed the above quote in 70 font size, Arial Bold Face to all the Digital Marketing companies ( especially Agencies & Publishers ). Needless to say that building your startup hiring strategy is a never ending Everest climb for all organisations ( digital or non digital ).

Though bigger digital brands find it slightly easy to attract the right talent, retaining the talent becomes a bigger pain for them as well.

Ask any HR specialist or recruiter, they would say the trend is nothing different from other industries. People are looking to match the pace of their career growth with the rising costs. An average salary increase of 12% is completely disconnected with rising inflationary conditions. This will build a spiral effect, people who are not satisfied with their financial conditions will always be the first ones to look out for better jobs & opportunities.

In an interview (watch the video) given by Mark Zuckerberg, he made a profound statement, I quote:

The best people I’ve hired in my life were those who didn’t have much of engineering experience ~ Mark Zuckerberg

Startup Hiring Strategy isn’t just about hiring the best people with skills or for that matter who are stable in their careers, it is also about getting those who have a strong & relevant point of view about what you believe in, even if they do not have the experience or qualification from reputed engineering colleges.

I also believe, that in every industry, people have their own set of challenges due to which they show unstable tendency at work places. Of course, there will always be few individuals who do not fall in line despite a lot of effort by the management, but in general, people hate updating their resumes every year.

Also Read : Why Job Hopping is no longer a stigma globally?

As a business owner ( especially a start up owner ), attrition is something I should always keep at the back of my mind as one of the challenges which could hamper my growth story. Often start ups do not factor attrition while giving projections to their investors, which I believe is a massive error. The sooner they’ll accept the lack of permanence in the employee-employer relationship, the better it will be for their future enterprise. Once the degree of attrition is understood & acknowledged in any industry, you can then plan your resources a lot better.

The question is, as a business owner, how can you deal with this kind of situation?

Team Composition

First, make hiring a continuous process and not just restricted till the desired roles are filled. Managers should always be on a lookout for quality resources with value added skills for the team. For instance, do not hire resources of same nature & type, hire people with differentiated skill sets which will add value in long term. People love to be in a team where they can learn from each other. Collaborative learning is possible when you have people with different skill-sets.

Long term hiring

Second, do not hire people for solving your short term problems. For instance, if your key Account Manager decides to leave, it is bound to hit your operations & would also create uncertainty at client’s end, but your new hiring should not be to fill the immediate gap, instead it should attract people who are looking for a challenge in their careers to put their skill to test. Employees who join start ups from big companies usually carry a lot of baggage of their esteemed employer. At times it can be fatal for team dynamics.

Performance linked remuneration

Third, hiring people on performance linked remuneration, incentives & contracts could be another option. If you build your digital company’s team dynamics this way, employees would be exactly aware of what they are chasing, what team is chasing & how they can work towards it in a logical yet innovative way, Managers KRA would be to maximise potential of each individual who is working as a part of this contract.The best part, build substantial amount of incentives ( both monetary & non monetary ) which would drive morale among the senior & junior level employees.

The last point needs an Industry buy-in, but we are witnessing this trend already in few small to mid size digital-IT & digital-Infra companies where other than the sales force, revenue support functions like account management/ client servicing & customer support have been connected to measurable performance linked metrics.

The contracts are time bound but readily renewable subject to agreement by both parties (employee & employer). It offers a very flexible working relationship to individuals where everything remains constant except that employees are free to move out after the contract period is over.

One of the main challenges any digital startup company will face is poaching from upcoming start ups. Actually the poor demand-supply ratio of quality resources has made it absolutely imperative for any company  to desperately hold on to their trained resources.

Today recruiters are under severe pressures to find quality talent for their clients. No start up has any time to waste on training semi skilled employees. They have a running train of profitability & projections to catch up without which they would not get their next round of funding from the investor.

So think of it, time bound, performance linked contracts isn’t a bad option in digital business, it may also prove to be a win-win for the individual & start up clients & agencies in the long term.

RIP Reports – Worldwide Failed startup trends

failed-start-up-business

Let me start this post by making a simple statement. By the time I would finish writing this post, according to latest startup trends, around 11,000 new startup business would get added to this world. Must be wondering how I found that number?

According to a massive research startup study done by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor– around 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide attempting to start 305 million companies, approximately 100 million new businesses (or one third) will open each year around the world.

reynoldsInterestingly, Dr. Paul D. Reynolds, Director, Research Institute, Global Entrepreneurship Center also says,

” The developing countries of Asia and Latin America are far ahead of Europe in starting new businesses, according to a recent survey of global entrepreneurial activity. But few start-ups have the potential to make an impact on jobs and growth, and a negligible number benefit from venture capital, with the vast majority reliant on informal funding. The 2002 annual survey by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was carried out across 37 countries representing 92% of world GDP. It finds that 286 million people, 12% of the workforce in these countries, are engaged in starting or running a new business, implying a global figure of about 460 million. “We were quite shocked by how high the index is in the developing countries,” admits Paul Reynolds, the GEM project co-ordinator. “Only now do we have a fuller understanding that half of the people in many developing countries are doing it out of necessity because they cannot find work, and that is what drives the rate up so high.” 

Every now and then we keep seeing these lists on buzzfeed or twitter around “17 coolest startups that can change your life” (like this one) and I’m sure a lot of you feel wow about the whole concept of startups. But let me spoil your party, most of these startup companies typically die around ~20 months after their last financing round and after having raised $1.3 million.

Failed startup Companies By Sectorfinal

  • 55% of failed startups raised $1M or less, and almost 70% companies died having raised less than $5M overall.  Not a big surprise. Companies at the earliest stages are the most vulnerable due to limited financial runway, immature products and businesses and general uncertainty about whether the market needs what they’ve built.
  • In each year since 2010, 70% of all dead tech companies have been in the internet sector. This is hardly a surprise as within tech, a majority of funding and deals has gone to the internet sector and so it would follow that the sector would have the largest proportion of dead companies.  The % of companies dying within the internet sector has stayed relatively range bound over the last several years as well.

On his many failed experiments, Thomas Edison once said,

I have learned fifty thousand ways it cannot be done and therefore I am fifty thousand times nearer the final successful experiment.

Well, it seems a lot of our modern day entrepreneurs have taken that quote to their hearts.

The rate at which startups are failing is quite incredible. Media, quite literally has made the whole idea of startup funeral extremely cool. It is hilarious (even bizarre) that the failed entrepreneur wants to grab the same attention like a war hero. The irony however, is that the media (especially the social media) is happily obliging to do it. Public post mortem of a failed Startup seems to have become a general startup trends in the business circles. A lot of professionals find it intellectually stimulating to visit the #RIP sessions of the startups. 

Dead_startup_Funding_Raised

 

Dead_startups_Time_Since_Funding

According to CB Insights report:

  • While the dead companies on our list raised $11.3M on average, the median funding raised which is a better measure in this case was $1.3M.
  • the average company dies ~20 months from its last funding round in the absence of additional funding or acquirers.

But the question which is bugging me continuously is,

Why do so many startups fail? 

Typically, there could be hundreds of possible reasons for a failed startup like:

  • lack of strong value proposition
  • high risk low return business model
  • longer sales cycles
  • non scalable, non profitable business

and many, many more. You could actually read about reasons of startup failure all around the web.

startups_failed_industry_Rankings

 

According to CB Insights startup trends,

“Death is not specific to a particular type of sector or industry. In fact, the companies on our dataset represent a fairly diverse set of subindustries.”

Interestingly, in the following Ted Talk, Clara Brenner, Co-Founder of Tumml talked about why a lot of social startups face such high failure rates.

She has mentioned about the importance of seed funding & how it needs to be utilized in a startup.

Also, the relevance of Impact Investors to Urban Innovation startups can be co-related with the importance of finding the right investor that matches your company’s vision. 

Finding a right investor for a startup is nothing short of doing matrimony match making. A lot of the startups fail even after getting several rounds of seed funding because the investor does not show enough trust or faith in the founding team’s vision.