Creating a successful business is hard; finding great people to staff it is even harder.
If you don't know how to attract employees to your business, you won't last long—and if you can't attract leaders to your company, you're in even bigger trouble. Salaries, bonuses and stock options bring leaders to big companies, but startups have limited resources. Not sure how to recruit talent for a startup? Fortunately, money isn't everything if you:
1. Opt for outsourcing.
At a startup you founded six months ago, you may not need a 40-hour-per-week CFO. And given that the average CFO may expect to make six figures per year, you almost certainly can't afford one. You could set up a part-time CFO role, but offering limited hours may not be a smart strategy. Providing equity in a company that may or may not succeed may not work, either. Benefits bring people in the door, but good luck beating enterprise companies when it comes to health and retirement benefits. Instead, consider outsourcing: An established CFO may be willing to act as a contractor, assuming the work is just a few hours per week. If your startup is on an upward trajectory, the CFO may see a future opportunity for herself.
Don't know how to get people to join your business from the corporate world? Demonstrate that your company is doing meaningful work.
2. Advertise ultimate flexibility.
One alternative recruitment strategies is to provide flexibility. Especially if you haven't figured out how to get people to join your business yet, give them the opportunity to set their own schedule. At most startups, specific work hours aren't important. Who cares if the CTO wants to code between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.? Many workers say flexible working arrangements boost their productivity, and leaders are no different. In the same vein, give leaders the opportunity to work from wherever they want. As long as it's not an all-staff meeting, there's no harm in the CMO working from a coffee shop or apartment. For culture-building purposes, though, do ask them to work from the office once or twice a week.
3. Help them learn something new.
Believe it or not, many managers receive no training whatsoever when they take on a leadership role. If you can make a good-faith pledge to train a leader in an area of their choice, you may have her interest. If that sounds like an alternative recruitment method, that's because it is. Don't expect to get conventional candidates, but do anticipate applications from continuous learners. The people who want to keep growing in their careers are the ones you want as your founding leaders anyway, right? Don't promise to teach skills you don't have, but do think creatively: If you worked as an architect before founding your startup, can you teach them how to design their dream home? Maybe your background is in marketing: Help that star salesperson become a marketing manager, and he just might sign on.
4. Showcase your social responsibility.
Don't know how to get people to join your business from the corporate world? Demonstrate that your company is doing meaningful work. Some candidates may be willing to take a pay cut to work for a more socially responsible business.
Those under 40—including young startup leaders—see the brands they work for and buy from as extensions of themselves. If a company they're loyal to does something unethical, they feel it reflects poorly on them since the company is supported by their purchases or work. Don't expect a donation here and there to be enough, though. If you aren't building a product to improve the world, commit to a nonprofit partner. Volunteer your team's time, even if it's just speaking to college business classes.
Frustrating as it can be, your new company simply can't afford to pay huge salaries right out of the gate. Leveraging alternative recruitment strategies, however, may help you find the talent you need. Once your company grows, you'll be able to reward new recruits in whatever ways you want.
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