This article is part of DBA, a new series on Mashable about running a business that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management. In medicine, you want as much experience and routine as possible – if I were to need surgery, Id want my surgeon operating under the most tried and true methods. It shouldnt come as a surprise that these people are at the heart of any company’s success.
Builders are centered on innovation. They transform existing systems and create new ways to execute your vision. They take your product idea and not only turn it into a reality, but add features you hadn’t previously imagined that make it even more appealing to your customers. They also find inventive ways to reach new sales channels and share your ideas.
Movers, on the other hand, add and grow your infrastructure to scale your business in a massive way. As with doctors, there are certain processes and pieces of your business for which established methods are important. Finance and legal, for example, are two places where it’s likely best that your people aren’t going off the beaten path in extreme ways. That doesn’t mean that they take innovation completely out of the picture, but they’re less focused on building an entirely new process -– they’re focused on executing in a way that best supports your goals.
Builders and movers are both critical for different stages in your company’s growth. But, as a leader of a burgeoning company, you should place your focus initially on hiring builders, because they’re the ones who are going to help your business get off the ground, establish a positive company culture and enable you to scale rapidly when the time comes.
The qualities of the ideal startup employee really depend on the startup in question. At my company, the ideal candidate shares our values: prioritizing customer success over all else, communication, transparency, integrity, talent and teamwork — and these priorities aren’t going to be explicitly stated on a resume.
Take the value of customer success, for example. We believe that if your customers are successful, so is your business. It’s often as simple as that -– and that’s why an ideal employee should have a customer-first mindset from the outset. And as customer success is often a pillar for most startups, I would imagine other founders feel the same way.
Of course, talent is undeniably the most important quality for any employee at any company, simply because talented people want to work with other talented people -– which is also why you want to prioritize candidates who value a diverse team. In my experience, I think one of the biggest mistakes founders make when building their leadership teams is only selecting candidates from a few select groups of candidates -– generally, people they know. At Okta, we certainly reach out to folks we have worked and partnered with in past positions, but we are careful to avoid hiring folks with similar background and experiences. We want diversity; we want people to contradict us and to take our ideas somewhere new. That doesn’t happen when you have a team with comparable resumes and perspectives.
Your core team will influence every decision you make during your company’s early stages. That’s why when my co-founder Todd McKinnon and I started Okta, we reached out to former coworkers, advisors, mentors and mentees to ask if they knew “builders” who would be a good fit for our team. We wanted to create a diverse team we knew we could trust, full of people who understood our vision and would be just as excited about the opportunity as we were.
That’s what we knew would tempt our candidates away from their cushy positions at bigger companies: The opportunity. People want to make an impact and they’ll often seize the chance to build a superior product that will make that possible. Instead of offering a significantly higher paycheck or private yoga lessons, give your new hires a seat at the table where opportunity trumps comfort. Read more…