4 Startup Hiring Challenges and How To Overcome Them



Early stage startups have a turnover problem: new companies let 25-percent of their employees go before their first birthday, and many others quit of their own accord. There are a variety of reasons why this happens – grueling hours, pivoting of company strategy, lack of structure – but one of the main issues is that a lot of new startups haven’t done a lot of hiring. Below are some of the problems that arise as a result – and what you can do about it.

No experience building teams

The number one challenge for most startup founders is that they’ve never built a team before. Oftentimes, people with little experience in this area lean toward hiring people who are just like themselves, when the reality is they need to be building a well-balanced team. Remember that you need people who are “go go go” types with 100-percent drive, and also people who are meticulous, detail-oriented and know how to create solid infrastructures.

Letting pride get in the way

You just closed your round, and you have a ton of momentum. It’s only natural to be swelling with pride, but that can get in the way. It’s important to have little bit of humbleness, because knowing that you don’t know how to do everything is key to success. You want to identify both your own weaknesses and those of your existing team, and then hire people who have strengths in those areas. Self-realization can be very difficult, but it’s critical when it comes to growing your company.

Not searching outside of a small network

Another challenge for a lot of younger CEOs is that they don’t necessarily have a large enough network from which to pull talent that they need. New founders will often hire friends, and there are pros and cons to that. On the one hand, there’s a huge amount of loyalty, and you can pull in friends who are in it to win it, and who back you 100-percent. On the flipside, they might not fall into the normal lines of authority, or you could just end up with yes men who agree to things, even if the ideas are ridiculous. The key is to hire people who will tell you that you’re doing something crazy.

A plate overflowing with other tasks

A new CEO is trying to do fifty-thousand things at once. Up to the point of bringing on new people, you’ve probably been building product in the dark. Now, you’re trying to maintain that momentum while creating job listings, setting up employee benefits, sifting through resumes and providing personalized onboarding for any new person – and that’s just the hiring part of the job. You’re also trying to acquire customers, and that takes a lot more effort than a lot of people realize. When you’re giving 100-percent to product and 100-percent to customers, you don’t have time to find perfect talent.

This leads to two outcomes. Either the startup rushes to hire, and because of a lack of due diligence, it doesn’t make the best hires for what it’s trying to accomplish. On the flipside, founders don’t hire at all, since they’re spending so much time on all this other stuff. There are lots of fires burning around you, you’re trying to put them out, and you don’t have time to get people on board to help put out those fires. It’s a Catch-22. Remember, there’s no shame in getting some help. Find a good recruiting firm or turn to close friends with a background in HR.

As you grow your team with the right people, you’ll have help putting out those aforementioned fires. And that allows you to focus on the most valuable thing you need to be spending your time on today: building your business.

Image credit: CC by Dita Margarita

About the author: Majed Itani

Majed Itani is VP of Engineering at Riviera Partners, where he provides both a vision and a path for his engineering team to create products people love to use. He is responsible for ensuring the design, stability and scalability of Riviera’s technology, and holds more than six patents in CRM-related products.

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