hiringDuring the first two years of my business I made several bad hires. I hired friends who weren’t qualified for the work I hired them to do because I trusted them and their salary requirements were fairly low.
It took me two years to realize that investing in superstars is the single most important thing you can do for your business. And when I say superstars, I don’t mean arrogant people with big egos; I mean the kind of people that will make things happen without you asking them to do it. These folks have initiative: they see a problem and they fix it; they don’t wait for you to tell them what to do.
The cost to hire these people is high, but the cost of not hiring them is even higher: your business can’t grow if you have to micromanage every one of your employees because they’re not capable of taking the bull by the horns and making things happen.
So, how do you find these people? Network like crazy. Take smart people out to lunch. When they mention other smart people, ask if they don’t mind making an introduction. Don’t skip any steps in the hiring process: interview several people before hiring someone, check references and ask all the tough questions that cross your mind. This is especially hard if you’re nice, but you have to do it anyway. Smart people think well on their feet and aren’t afraid to say “I don’t know” when they don’t know something.
Don’t stop pursuing a great candidate if they already have a job. The vast majority of superstars aren’t unemployed.
Make sure to take the candidates out for lunch and beer. Look for people you like hanging out with. Being qualified isn’t enough; they also need to fit well with your company culture and get along with everyone else. A bad apple can cause others to rot.
As the saying goes, “hire slow and fire fast.” Most entrepreneurs (myself included) have a really hard time letting people go. Being nice is great, but sometimes you have to choose between being nice to a person who is constantly letting you down or doing what’s best for your company. Remember all the other families you are feeding; it’s not fair to put their financial security at risk because letting a bad apple go feels uncomfortable. If your business fails, make sure it’s because you tried everything you could and nothing worked, not because you knew the right thing to do and didn’t have the guts to do it.