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Ten traits to look for when hiring for your start up

28 Oct 2014

People who work in start ups are natural entrepreneurs. After all, they give up the comfort of a steady job in big business to change things. If you’re interviewing people for a start up, or your company wants to introduce that culture, these are the traits you’re looking for.

1. Motivation and Passion. The ability to get motivated from the get-go, they will hit the ground running and make a million suggestions to improve things. Entrepreneurs work on gut feeling and although they make mistakes, they will often be proved right. They’re passionate about change and improvement. This is the number one reason why you want them.2. Curiosity. They will ask questions incessantly and innovate at every opportunity. They won’t be happy with the status quo and are willing to disagree and action.3. Can-do attitude. They won’t want to have a meeting to have a meeting. They want to workshop and action immediately. Their attitude relies on freedom to innovate and to innovate quickly.

4. Balls. They have the balls to make mistakes, to try, try and try again. If they do fail, they’ll do it quickly. You will find they have a drive that you can’t measure, and a tenacity that will drive most people insane.5. Hunger. They will work all hours and drive themselves beyond normal people’s limits. You have to support them with all the tools they want, even if what they ask for doesn’t make sense. They don’t have time to explain everything, but believe in them. They’re doing the best for the business.6. Humour and culture. Choose people who will be the right cultural fit. This way they’ll gain the support of colleagues. If you’re a business looking to change your culture to move towards that of a startup, will your staff follow them and learn from them? They will have a sense of humour that breaks down barriers and will undoubtedly be worse than yours.7. Impact. They want to change things. If you’re not willing to support them in creating change, then your business isn’t ready. Their impact is likely to be greater than you could realise. You must be willing to hitch your train to theirs.8. Flexibility. They are jack-of-all-trades people. They may not have done a particular role, but they’re willing to give it a go. They will also tell you what they’re weak in, don’t worry, concentrate on their skills rather than their weaknesses. You’ll quickly find their talents and you can guide them in achieving greatness.9. Audacity. They’re independent and don’t want to be micro-managed, but instead are given the freedom to work how they work best. They’re willing to admit mistakes but are humble in their achievements. Sometime they are too humble and won’t seek recognition, you should provide frequent substantive rewards.10. Competitiveness. They compete at everything they do as they strive to be better, to achieve more. They will move into areas that they have no history or knowledge of, just because the as-is needs improving. They see things from a larger scale and can achieve more round a pool table then in a formal meeting.

These 10 traits are a guide to the natural traits that you are looking for. These are best summarised by a now familiar phrase from Apple:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

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