Imagine you are planning a long road trip across the country with your friends. You start on your trip and you are so excited. You have your car packed with everything you are going to need and you have no worries in the world but when someone will need to use the bathroom. You think that you are all prepared and then you hit some construction and have to detour through the mountains. You might drive into a pothole and blow a tire in the middle of the Arizona desert. You could run out of gas somewhere near Amarillo and have to walk 3 miles. You and your friends could argue over who gets to control the radio through Colorado.
Starting a business is a lot like a road trip with your friends. You are going to run into snags along the way and have to figure them out as you go. The construction you hit is like having to reformat your business plan because that idea exists already. That pothole is missing out on funding because you would not give up control. The gas you ran out of is someone walking away from the startup because they are not ready to quit their job. And that radio argument is you and the other founders deciding who gets the title of CEO. You are going to face a lot of dilemmas when founding a business, including role dilemmas. Let’s take a look at the role dilemmas that Naom Wasserman talks about in The Founder’s Dilemmas
- Avoiding Conflict– Founding teams will often times try to avoid conflict by naming multiple people as key decision makers in the beginning. This causes a problem because then everyone needs to agree on company decisions and this is not ideal for split second decisions and can cost the startup dearly because everyone must agree. It can also cause conflict further down the road which can endanger the future of the startup.
- Understanding “Title Inertia”– The founding team should decide who is going to be the best initial CEO and understand that “inertial tendencies” will make this hard to change in the future. If the person that is selected cannot keep up with the demands of the job or another founder proves that they are the better fit down the road, it is going to be very hard to convince the CEO to change once they have been crowned. Most CEOs are hesitant and reluctant to give up their status and power which can cause tension. The idea person is usually the best choice to become CEO because of their passion and vision, but the founding team should assess if they would be a better fit in a different role that requires those traits.
- Inflating Titles– The dangers of inertia also apply to non-CEO founders who take on C-level titles in the beginning. Once the business has grown much bigger, many of those founders might not fit or be best suited for their roles anymore. However, replacing or demoting them could cause tension and disruption. In order to prevent this future tension, teams should weigh the pros and cons of each person before assigning those titles.
- Wanting Allies on Board– When the board of directors if being formed or changed, founder/CEOs will often want to have allies on the board with them and they often select co founders to join them. But having more than one founder can have long term costs that outweigh the benefit. If you have more than one founder on the board, it can cause role confusion within the executive team, hinder board discussions, and cause even more challenges for the CEO.
- Ignoring Incompatible Motivations– A founder’s motivations can have a profound effect on role tensions within the team. If you have two founders who are control motivated people, they both want to be “king” and this will lead to many conflicts throughout the life of the business. However, if two founders are “rich” motivated, they are focused on the wealth aspect of the business and have the same goal in mind. These two founders can work together to achieve that goal because they will not be competing. If you have a “king” motivated founder and a “rich” motivated founder, they will balance each other out and be able to achieve their goals together. Before founding together, potential co founders should assess each others motivations to see if they will run into potential conflicts.
Now that we have worked through all of the issues that we are going to face when founding our startup and giving our founders the right titles and proper positions, we can think about who to hire and where to find them.
I do not know if I have talked about the book How to Hire A Players by Eric Herrenkohl but if you took a look at my copy, you would see a book that is full of highlights and bent corners. I really like how Herrenkohl encourages you to think out of the box when you are looking for potential new employees and how to find the best employees for your startup. The following are the different places he encourages you to look to find people with the skills you are looking for:
- Look for highly skilled women who are reentering the workforce after taking time off to raise their children. If you can off them flexible hours that they want and need, they can bring a lot of talent to your company.
- If you business is in the sales industry, you want to look to hire former waiters and waitresses. They know how to up-sell and they are good at working on the fly. Expand your network to include this talent pool and hire the highest performers that you find.
- Teachers have strong people skills, communication skills, are organized, and are often underpaid. Look for ways to utilize them during the summer months and provide them with the flexibility they will need during the school year. Some of these teachers may even end up leaving the teaching world and work for you full time.
- Starbucks and other national retailers spend a lot of time training their staff so they are highly skilled. You are interviewing them every time you interact with a barista, even if it is just for a minute. Establish a connect with the ones that really leave a lasting impression on your and over time, they may end up being one of your star employees.
- Building relationships with professors and other university influencers can help even small companies attract top talent. These connections can help you connect with students who fit into your A-Player profile.
- Designing an internship program can help your company find A-Player talent. Set up some clear goals and objectives for your program and make sure to create great experiences for your interns. This will generate positive word of mouth and quality referrals for next years students seeking internships.
I would have never thought about looking in some of these places for employees. I was a waitress for 3 years and I would have never thought of myself as a “salesperson.” After looking at some of the options, I think that I would love to hire a few former wait staff and implement an internship program. Having interns for certain roles could bring you a lot of A-Players and insight into what younger people are looking for (if that is your target demographic) and what is new in the world of social media.
I enjoyed reading about the role dilemmas because it was something that I never gave a lot of thought to because I always pictures myself just running my shop by myself but if I want it to be as large as I plan, I am probably going to need some help. Knowing what role dilemmas I could face in the future will help me to prepare for them before I run into them. Also, thinking outside the box to find A-Players will help me to get a jump start on getting the best farm team I can and getting the right people into the right position.
I learned some interesting things while reading these sections and I enjoyed it. I hope that you learned something in reading my post. Leave me a comment below telling me some unconventional places where you would look for A-Players.
Thank you for stopping by.
Until next time,