Patrick Seaman has been a mentor, advisor, and consultant for startups for 12 years. He’s been involved with startups focused on software, media productions, and e-commerce, to name just a few. He created a presentation called, “Attracting Talent to Startups,” which addressed the startup community with his advice on its’ growth and how to attract, motivate, and retain skilled employees.
Seaman explained, “Over the years I’ve hired lots of folks from both into my various startups. My experience, and that of others, is that often the corp dudes and dudettes romanticize the startup world, but often don’t adjust well. They’re too used to narrow lines of responsibility and the safety net a large corp offers. I did a slideshare on attracting talent to startups a while back.”
His presentation discussed some of the issues startups face in their beginning “phases of life”. Startups are created when a founder discovers a problem that they believe they have a solution to. Once the founder assembles a small team and has the financial support, this team wears many hats: including support, accounting, marketing, ect.
Seaman explains that as this team grows, one issue a startup may face is hiring a new employee with a corporate background. Now that they’re part of a much smaller team, corporate employees aren’t able to pass off problems to other departments like they were used to.
So how does a startup gain great employees? By and large, corporations “poach” employees from competing corporations. Since startups don’t have big pockets like corporations, the best approach is searching for people without corporate backgrounds, that are willing to take a risk with your startup. Similar to corporations, startups can poach employees from struggling startups. The benefit hiring these types of employees is that they are already used to working at a startup.
Once a startup has great talent, it’s important to retain these great employees. Seaman explains that startups should take note of the little things. Remembering birthdays and work anniversaries with hand-written cards and flowers are an example of showing employees that they are valued.