You know the late Steve Jobs? I’m sure you do. He needs no introduction. Steve was once asked what he can credit his great success to. No, he didn’t say his exceptional brain or long hours on the grind. Here is what the great one said:

So, if it came from Steve, I’m sure it needs no emphasis on how important talent sourcing and hiring is to any business owner. It is so important, I can go as far as saying it is THE most important decision you will need to make as a business owner (no pressure).

Let’s go over how to make that decision easier. You see, betting on your startup is all about betting on people. In as much as you would like to micro manage every last detail, one of the benefits of scaling operations is more work load. Increased workload means increased demand on maintaining a consistent product and this will need a team. Not just any team, but a group of people with the ability to deliver your vision and be part of the journey. 

The biggest resource therefore isn’t money or tech. It’s human resource.

Ok, great! But how do I hire the right talent?

Just a little context. In a 2020 disclosure, the US Department for Labor said the cost for making the wrong hire is 30%. McKinsey & Co said the difference between average and top-class hire is 67% productivity resulting in 67% difference in profit margin as a consequence. That’s a 67% chance of making a profit or loss! Stakes high enough?

To avoid falling in the latter bracket, here is how you do it;

1. Always strive to hire up.

If you’re looking to grow your team, it means you’re either not satisfied with what the current team is delivering, or you’re scaling your business and you need to find good fits for the new roles . 

Preferably, new additions should have better skill sets and qualifications than what is existing. Anything but this will be adding yet another load to the carrier when you should be looking to add another horse to the carriage. Does it make sense? Why would you settle for anything less?

This also applies to you, the business owner. Yes, you! Your new recruit should have a higher ceiling than yours, and this calls for a visionary mindset. Being able to think long term will help you select hires who can run the show when you’re not around. This will save you pains when you either need time away, or when you’re ready to retire. Hire leaders, not followers.

Answer the question, 'If this person becomes my boss, would they force me to become better?’ Here is where an ego check comes in handy. Hiring anyone worse than you, will only help to stroke your ego because you’ll boss them around, tell them what to do, but this would only hurt your business in the long run (back to the load and horse analogy).

Hire somebody who will challenge your decisions occasionally (not question) as they will more often than not have solutions. Stevie J says it best: 


Now you have a high value employee. You’ll have to…

2. Pay the price. It will be worth it.

Let’s face it, high value employees know more often than not that they are high value and will demand that their compensation commensurates the value they bring. This is the main reason why some business owners decide to hire down: Quality talent comes with higher salaries. The balance is getting the right personnel while still abiding by your tight pockets. The catch however is, for a high quality workforce, you have to pay the price. Incur the cost. If done right, the payoff is worth the extra shilling.

Case in point, you have a choice between John – a finance major with ACCA certification – and Larry – a part time office clerk. He isn’t a specialist but he’s balanced accounts before. John asks for 20% more than Larry has settled for but because you do not want to pay the extra 20% for a new accountant, you give Larry the job. At the close of the fiscal, none of your books are balanced, and you get into trouble with the auditors resulting in hefty penalties. Upon analysis of the books, Larry made a fatal error of translation (indicated 89 as 98). However, he noticed the error but only rectified the one account affected, forgetting that with reconciliation, accounts always filter into the other and one error such as that ruins everything.Surely something a specialized accountant would know, right? If only you had the opportunity to hire one? You end up incurring costs that are 5 times more what the difference in John’s and Larry’s salary was, not to mention a tainted image with your auditor. I’m sure you get what’s at risk at this point. 

Now that you know to pay the extra 20%, remember to…

3.    Hire beyond the CV.

I’m sure you have heard the adage ‘The rotten apple ruins the whole bunch’. Allow me to introduce a new spin. It doesn’t matter if the same rotten apple is the roundest and juiciest – it will still ruin the whole bunch and with much better ease (it’s bigger). But wait? Apples now? How does this apply to hiring?

The most qualified employee means nothing if there is no alignment of ideals: Alignment of character. Nothing stands out more than a rotten attitude in a team. It could so easily ruin a very stable dynamic and working environment. 

The trick? Put the resume aside and get to know the person. Is this person compassionate? Do they possess empathy? Are they grateful for their current situation? What is their story? How passionately do they speak about their dreams? Alignment of ideals is so important as it impacts company culture. If there is no fit, you won’t be happy with the appointment and you’ll be wasting their time as well by keeping them around.

Now that you have a full stack employee, remember to go back to your notes about them after 6-12 months and answer the question, ‘Was I right about them? What did I interpret wrong? What did I get right? This improves your own ability to make hire decisions. You slowly create a ‘recruitment playbook’ that will guide you in subsequent hires.

Remember this; Folks spend 10% of their time recruiting and 90% of their time paying the price for wrong recruitment. Which side of the divide will you be?