For those unfamiliar with the term scaling, it is a word that has gained popularity in the startup community. Scaling is an action that companies take once they have proven the product or service that’s for sale is in demand, and once the business has shown some ability to reliably deliver consistent growth month in and month out.
In other words, the need for scale arises when a company has found real product-market fit.
When a business begins to scale, it’s a sign that the company has overcome considerable initial challenges. Next, you have to focus on building the right team to take the business to new heights. After all, a company is a collection of people who create a product or provide a service. People are the ones who design, code, test, market, sell and support your product or service. Your product is not innovative; it is the people behind it who are. People will make or break the success of your company.
One challenge I, and many of my fellow entrepreneurs, face is how to balance scaling as fast as possible while recruiting only the best of the best. Here are a few principles that we follow as we scale at Bizzabo:
1. Create a recruitment marketing plan.
Treat your candidate funnel just as you treat your sales lead funnel. To increase the volume of applicants and attract the right candidates, you need to build a recruitment marketing plan with clear goals that are aligned with your growth goals.
This plan should define the ideal candidate profile, the desired deadlines and the activities needed to hit your goals. Activities may include paying for ads targeting talented people on LinkedIn, or creating high converting landing pages that clearly articulate the desired skills, the company culture and perks.
Having a recruitment marketing plan will not only help to attract more of the right people but will also save your team time by attracting fewer wrong people.
2. Only hire ‘A players.’
Scaling is an opportunity to onboard incredibly talented people. Each new person who is hired should be more talented than the person who was hired before them. Following this scaling principle will help entrepreneurs make sure that the collective capabilities of their company continues to improve with time.
Eventually, your new hires will be hiring managers. If you bring new team members on board who are motivated to work with other A players, you’ll be building a company that gets increasingly more talented and driven with time.
To make sure we only hire A players, we look for a spark of excellence from each candidate regardless of the position they are interviewing for. Candidates must have a history of demonstrating excellence in some form, whether professionally or personally. They need to show they have what it takes to be a top contributor to the company.
3. Look for potential future leaders.
Hire people who can lead teams in three years or less. Avoid hiring employees who are a great fit for a current open position, but lack the interest, motivation or basic skills needed to assume more responsibility down the road.
By hiring people who will be able to lead teams in the future, you will be creating a flexible workforce, while also helping to establish the groundwork for promoting from within -- a cultural trait present in most successful organizations.
4. Don’t compromise on culture fit.
Company culture is not about being buddies with your existing team. It is about hiring people with a set of values that mirrors your company culture. In our case, those values are related to ownership, communication, results, respect and questioning the norm.
People tend to respect and appreciate people with similar values and achievements. With time, these people tend to build great relationships and often, friendships. Therefore, you should hire for a company culture fit first, and social fit second. That way, new hires will also help shape your company's culture moving forward.
By hiring people with a common set of values -- not hobbies or habits -- you pave your way to a great company culture.
5. Interview enough candidates and move fast when needed.
Sometimes the best way to understand who is and who isn’t a great fit for your company is to meet a lot of candidates. The best candidates are often the ones who are able to stand out from a crowd.
When you find someone who you think is a “type A” and is a great culture fit, move fast like the wind, as excellent candidates tend to be on the job market for a very short time. Prioritize the process of hiring great people above anything else, and you’ll make it much easier to secure in-demand talent.
We’ve found that the optimal hiring time between a screening interview to a final offer is no longer than 10 days. Keep it short, and you’ll end up with the cream of the crop.
6. Have a great training plan.
To make your hiring more efficient at scale, make sure you have an onboarding plan in place. The success of each new team member is dependent on the quality of your company’s onboarding process. Invest at least as much time in training talented people as you do in finding them.
During the first few weeks of working at a new company, new people will form long-lasting judgements about company culture, colleagues and more. The onboarding process should clearly articulate what it means to work for your company. What are the values your company espouses? How should employees work with one another? What are the main goals and challenges facing your company? What have the most successful people at your company done that can be replicated?
By answering these key questions for new hires in a clear way, you will be helping them to be more productive and more motivated. Make sure to create an onboarding plan so that new employees are happy and productive as quickly as possible.
Great companies and products are driven by people. They are your most precious resource. To scale quickly with the best talent, it’s important to choose your new hires wisely by building a well-oiled recruiting machine. Start by having a plan. Focus on only hiring smart, talented candidates who can push the business forward, become future leaders and who can help your company culture evolve.