How to Save Your Startup by Hiring the Right People

By Suhaib Mohammed

November 2, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


Your startup is as fragile as a newborn baby. It has blood in its veins (capital), but can’t fend for itself yet because of insufficient customers, no word-of-mouth advertisement, and not enough sales. No wonder startups cry a lot and fail a lot.

According to new research by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh, 75% of all startups fail. But what is the reason behind this massive failure?

Many entrepreneurs and executives attribute the colossal failure to a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Poor management
  • Poor execution
  • Poor business model

Notice how all these factors (and much more not mentioned here) are attributed to the founders.

  • A startup fails because of a founder’s poor management
  • A startup fails because of a founder’s poor execution
  • A startup fails because of a founder’s poor business model

The truth is a single founder can hardly build and run a business to a success. They need the right partner, the right team or the right people to help them through. And understanding how to hire the right people will not only save your startup from failure but will also increase its chances of success.

See Also: From Startup Idea to Successful Business: 7 Questions to Ask Before You Pursue That Venture

Look for passionate people


No one wants to be rejected by an employer. Job applicants are skilled at wearing masks (covering their shortcomings with perfect resumes and decorated titles) to lure the CEO into hiring them.

How do you select the right ones? How do you find those candidates who will do their very best to build your startup to success?

Look for passion.

Passionate people are the right hires for your business. They don’t just want to get hired for the paycheck; they want to get hired for the love. They love the job.

Because they’re passionate, these people will not just carry their responsibilities. They will fill other roles as well, and support your cause with hard work, enthusiasm and affection.

And noticing them is easier than you think. Just ask the following questions during the interview:

  • What are your hobbies? Understand the applicant’s hobby outside of work, and see if it is in line with your business.
  • How do you maintain a work-life balance? Is the candidate an all-work-and-no-play kind of guy? If they are not balancing life and work as normal, passionate people do, let them go.
  • If recruited, how do you see yourself five years from now? Listen to this one more closely. Passionate people will tell you something greater than what you’ve ever imagined. They might even give you a hint of a great business idea.

The point is to find true answers that come from the heart and not just lip service covered in looks and a suit.

Look for applicants with a unique skill set

Now that you’ve discovered a passionate candidate, don’t celebrate yet. There is still some more digging to do. Look for their unique skill set, and ensure that it matches what your startup needs at the moment.

Because let’s face it: your startup can’t afford fancy employees with expensive qualifications yet lacking the basic skills you need to scale your company.

If your business is struggling with sales, for instance, what kind of applicant would you look for? A great marketer of course, but more especially, one who has a unique skill set like a growth hacker to take your business to the next level.

See Also: 5 Steps to Creating a More Productive Sales Team 

Look for people who fit your company culture


Your startup culture is like your personality. It makes you unique and makes you stand out from the rest of your competitors.

Hiring a candidate who doesn’t fit your company culture can cost your business between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

To ensure that you recruit for cultural fit, ask the following questions during the interview:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How would you describe our culture?
  • What organizational culture do you grow in?

Listen to the reason why the candidate wants to work for you, about their description of your company culture, their story concerning the organizational culture they grow in, and, most importantly, their tone of voice and honesty.

Bad people with no passion tend to speak in an overconfident, verbose way to cover their true self — a trait that will choke your little startup to death.


Suhaib Mohammed

Suhaib Mohammed is a freelance startup and entrepreneurship writer. Hire him by visiting his website at Cademica. You can also follow him on Twitter – @Cademicaa.

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