Once entrepreneurs master their pitch and earn the support of investors, they face the challenge of building an all-star team. Luckily, the Middle East is full of people with incredible talent and leading universities that produce sharp minds.
For this reason, entrepreneurs can often find highly-qualified people to join their fledgling companies. However, entrepreneurs need to look for more than just a smart mind when it comes to hiring their first employees. Below are some of the key considerations that entrepreneurs should keep in mind as they build their teams.
1. Build a strong brand.
A Bayt.com survey found that at least half of the professionals in the Middle East wanted to feel like they were working toward a greater purpose. To attract the best, most committed employees, it is critical that entrepreneurs build a strong brand, including a clear mission and vision statement that looks beyond making money and focuses on the real impact of the product or service.
Entrepreneurs should also spend time thinking about the values that drive their work and then ensure that their employees have similar values. With a strong brand, both potential customers and employees will begin to feel a sense of alignment with the company and its mission, which builds loyalty and helps the company develop at a faster rate.
2. Look beyond the resume.
Too often, entrepreneurs make their final decisions based on reading resumes before they even meet with potential employees. Instead, entrepreneurs should take fairly little stock in the resume and allow potential hires to show rather than tell what they can do. One of the most popular ways of judging modern candidates is to assign them a task, whether it is a short programming challenge or a marketing pitch.
When people complete a task like this, it is much easier to see what motivates them and how they will fit into the culture that the entrepreneur is trying to develop. A really unique way of seeing how candidates will fit into the company is to have a few people tackle a challenge as a team. This approach can show who has natural leadership abilities and who is able to collaborate most effectively.
3. Ask about more than work history.
The best way to get to know candidates and what motivates them is to have a relaxed conversation. Many entrepreneurs think that the interview needs to be a formal occasion, but a more relaxed conversation is often more productive. Entrepreneurs should look beyond typical interview questions and ask about what potential employees are passionate about in their day-to-day lives and what they have done that they are most proud of, whether it is related to work or not.
Often, the unique skills built by hobbies can really benefit a fledgling company and help it stand out from the competition. During an interview, it is important to ask about what goals individuals have for the future to see if the person wants to grow with the company or is seeking something more short term. Both of these situations have potential benefits for a new company depending on the entrepreneur’s goals.
4. Hire people better than you.
Entrepreneurs may worry about hiring candidates that are “too smart,” fearing that they will somehow change the vision of the company. Ultimately, while someone had to have the initial idea for a new company, that person cannot possibly be an expert in all relevant fields. Entrepreneurs need to find the people whom they consider smarter than them in particular areas of weakness.
Importantly, all new hires should be trustworthy. If an employee gives a particular opinion, the entrepreneur should be able to accept that as a valid professional judgment. If entrepreneurs do not feel like they can have this trust in a potential hire, then that candidate is not right for the position.
5. Offer competitive compensation.
How much employees make is not everything, but it is important to offer a fair market rate to attract top talent. While budgets can prove restrictive, it is often better to hire one all-star employee than two mediocre workers. When entrepreneurs try to pay below market, they will get what they pay for in the end.
If the budget becomes a major hindrance, entrepreneurs can offer other incentives to attract top talent, such as equity in the company and similar benefits. When entrepreneurs get creative, they can build a strong team out of limited resources. Opportunities for career development can be an excellent tool for attracting talent.
6. Cast a wide net.
Sometimes, the perfect hire comes from a completely unexpected place. When looking to build a team, entrepreneurs should take advantage of all the resources they have, from pulling on contacts in their own professional networks, to posting listings online and hiring a recruiter.
When entrepreneurs think that the ideal team member comes from a specific place, they limit themselves and the growth opportunities of their companies. One of the best and often-overlooked resources for finding new hires is to ask for recommendations from existing employees.