4 Hiring Mistakes for Startups to Avoid

This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog.

People are the primary fuel for any successful entrepreneurial venture, but hiring is more difficult than ever in today’s tight labor market.

In fact, hiring quality people is the top concern among startup founders, ranking even above revenue growth and customer acquisition, according to First Round’s State of Startups 2018 study. More than 66% of founders in the survey said they were concerned about securing top talent for their organization. A separate study by venture capital database CB Insights found that team issues were cited as the top factor behind nearly a quarter of startup failures.

The stakes for hiring the best people for your startup are clear, even if the path isn’t always straightforward. However, avoiding these four common startup hiring mistakes is a good place to start.

Hiring Your Friends

Katee Van Horn, a diversity and inclusion speaker, coach and author, says founders often turn to family, friends or other members of their personal networks to fill jobs early in their company’s life cycle — even if those connections aren’t fully qualified for the positions. “It’s scary to be an entrepreneur, so you want people you can trust and rely on,” she says.

The consequence, Van Horn says, can be a homogeneous thought process that limits a company’s ability to innovate or avoid mistakes. “You want someone who will actually challenge you to be better,” she says, as well as people who can help you “find the right answer, not the same answer.”

She suggests looking for talent outside of your community or network when possible, or asking your network who they think is the best at the skills you’re looking to acquire.

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