Being a founder is tough and you can’t afford to make deadly hiring mistakes. Every dollar is precious and hiring the right resources who will be able to bring your vision to life is difficult. Picking just one wrong employee, freelancer or outsourcing company can be costly or even deadly to your business.

  1. Hasty Hiring – Hiring the first person you interview, or even hiring on the spot when you meet someone. Being desperate to fill seats and get things done at the expense of finding the right fit for the role and the team.
  2. Over-Hiring– Hiring very experienced resources before you have a funding runway. If everything does not go perfectly, you will run out of time and money before you can get your idea off the ground.
  3. Under-Hiring – Hiring very inexperienced resources without providing experienced industry mentors, clear job descriptions, detailed project requirements and defined goals. Your resource may not know how to navigate a new job, and will have to “wing it” without support. They may sink or swim, but soon they will be burnt out and looking for another job.
  4. Outsourcing to Remote Strangers You Can’t Qualify – You may get hundreds of solicitations from countries all over the world to handle your software development. Hiring an in tact, proven team can be great, but you will also need to provide very clear goals and requirements, navigate long distance and cross-cultural communication challenges, often outside of business hours to get anything done. You may not realize that things are going poorly until you are deeply into the project or even nearing completion. You’ll be burnt out and out of funds.
  5. A Patchwork of Disconnected Freelancers – Hiring an assortment of freelancers in different locations who don’t connect with each other puts the burden on the founder to keep every task synchronized.
  6. Friends & Family – hiring people with emotional ties, money issues, health issues, etc. can lead to hard feelings, confusion and conflict if performance suffers or if you have a hard time communicating about performance expectations. You may or may not be hiring the best person for the job, even if they are #1 in your heart. If you’d like the relationship to survive the start up, help them find a job elsewhere.
  7. Unverified Recommendations – this is an extension of the friends and family issue. A person you trust has a reason to recommend one of their friends and family members to you. Do they understand the skills required by the job? Do they have an emotional reason for the recommendation? Tread cautiously and vet the candidate, while keeping your trusted person at arm’s length.
  8. Hiring Just for Skills – They can code their brains out, came from a world famous company, or they have an incredible degree or certification. On paper they look outstanding, but later you find that they don’t have the drive or attitude to work with the rest of the team. Skills alone won’t save your start up.
  9. Delaying an Attitude Adjustment – Lots of people are skilled technicians – they can design, code or handle complex tasks in the area of their training. But they may be toxic or distracting to their coworkers, gossiping or undermining other departments. Very few people have mastered the can do attitude and empathy that makes for a delightful and productive contributor. Skills can be taught and improved more easily. Attitude is harder to adjust because it is an inside job and very personality driven. Attitude can be modeled by leaders in the company, but it also needs to be discovered, fostered and prized as a dominant trait in all members of the team. A bad attitude is a leading indicator of burnout, lack of engagement, and further destructive behaviors. A disengaged, bitter team member can drag the whole team down like a giant anchor sinking into a the depths of a sea of plastic trash. Lack of engagement means you are paying for work that isn’t really happening. Don’t waste your time and money trying to change someone’s attitude. Find someone with a spectacular attitude and help them embrace new challenges.
  10. Sloppy Onboarding – You can’t expect every candidate you hire to automatically click into place and understand how you think, how you want things done, how your tools and systems work, who to go to for help, partnership or clarification or what you are trying to accomplish. You still need to show them the ropes and help them learn about the organization from the inside. Making this ramp up time productive, efficient and deliberately helpful shows you value the new hire, builds mutual loyalty and a healthy work culture.
  11. BONUS: Firing Too Slowly – Address problems head on when they are small and fixable. That is your main responsibility. This is your dream – not anyone else’s and they are not likely to take it as seriously as you do. If someone is violating your stated company values, steering the company off course, infecting coworkers with a bad attitude and there isn’t a legitimate reason to explain why they are acting this way, it is time to do yourself and them a favor by setting them free to pursue something more appropriate for their special gifts. Rip the bandage off as quickly and humanely as possible. Make sure you are covering your bases with applicable employment laws and be kind but firm. Startup life is not for everyone, but doors will open for good people.

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