One of Startups’ Biggest Challenges
It’s not money, it’s not ideas, it’s not market fit… I recently attended an event featuring Frank Azor who was Alienware’s 4th employee in the company and now head’s Dell’s XPS department. When asked about what is one of the most important things in business he instantly replied “It’s the team.” He continued, “When you hire someone for your startup, you have to hire them knowing that at some point you might, or even WILL, have to fire them.”
I proceeded to ask him, “being that this is such a crucial aspect in startups, what tips or pointers could you provide us after so many years of hiring individuals for your company?” He instantly reverted to one of his earlier points describing what in his eyes are the top 3 things an entrepreneur should have. Number one being passion. Second, was the ability to not fear failure. Third, was that a person has a relentless pursuit in learning and growing from those experiences. Frank explained, “I know within the first five seconds of an interview if I’m hiring this candidate or not. I don’t look at academics for anything more than proof that this person in front of me likes to challenge themselves more than the actual schooling itself.” I found this to be a pretty interesting perspective on education and agree with it as well.
Passion can be described by someone’s wish to pursue a vision more than a paycheck. Money needs to be the ultimate goal of a group a people pursuing that common vision and you need to ensure that the entire team is on that same page. Frank explained, “If you’re a startup of 5 guys and one of you isn’t all-in, then 20% of your company is at risk.”
Second, not being afraid to fail means someone, most likely not an expert in whatever venture they want to pursue, decides to do something extraordinary regardless of outcome. At the end of the day successful or not, what matters is that THEY WENT FOR IT and figured it out without hesitation. “That’s one of the things I look at because in our teams, one day I’ll tell someone, hop on a plane to Asia, we need a meeting with the 10 biggest suppliers of (X) in the region and I want a proposal in place 2 weeks from today. Go! I want to have someone on my team that can be up to the task and will figure it out.”
Last but not least, open and eager to learn from those mistakes. It’s of great value to an organization to have people that not only recognize that something went wrong and take responsibility for it, but to fully implement lessons learned onto their next task. This is how you can perform at a higher level and acquire “experience” in your field. It’s not simply by spending time in your industry but by accumulating best practices and successes throughout the years that expertise and thought leadership is developed. Keep these pointers in mind as you grow your company. Hiring the right person or team could potentially provide your young company a boost in productivity, culture and ultimately results for your startup business.