• Business planning and strategy
  • Entrepreneurship

Fear: An Entrepreneur’s Biggest Hiring Challenge

Guest Blogger | August 14, 2015

As part of the agenda for Futurpreneur Canada’s annual Action Entrepreneurship Summit in May, hundreds of young, exuberant, and inquisitive entrepreneurs from coast to coast sat down to ask their most pressing questions, and seek advice from subject matter experts on how to grow their businesses.

It was an honour for me to be amongst them, and truth be told, I felt both excited and a little bit nervous – after all, these were some of the brightest and most determined young minds in the country and the questions they posed to me around people and team-building didn’t disappoint. They were thoughtful and strategic, and revealed a common theme that resonated throughout the summit about the challenges around attracting and managing talent.

“How will I know when to make my first hire?”

“How do I attract the right people?”

“What attributes should I look for?”

What became clearer as we discussed those topics in greater detail was that for some of them, making that first hire or building out their team wasn’t just causing apprehension—they were feeling downright anxious and even fearful about it. Anxious that the hire somehow wouldn’t work out and fearful of the ramifications on their company’s culture, morale, and even the potential legal consequences.

Everyone knows that fear can be a powerful motivator. It can sometimes lie at the root of that drive which entrepreneurs possess, and it’s built into the limbic system of our brains so that we don’t casually walk off a cliff one day. However, fear can also hold entrepreneurs back from making those hires that will be crucial to building their business.

  • The fear that no one is going to love, or be as committed to the company as much as you
  • The fear that your business will collapse unless you hire someone by tomorrow
  • The fear that there’s likely no one better for the job, so you settle for someone who’s not ideal

Making any kind of people decisions based on fear is always ill advised. So what can you do? How can you dispel that fear? And how can you increase the odds of building the best team? Here are three quick tips:

1. Define what ‘fit’ means to you, and hire based on it

Traditional job interviews always tend to focus on skills, but the primary reason why people are let go is because of poor fit. There’s a big disconnect there. So before you make your first hire, or bring on a partner, take the time to define what ‘being a good fit’ really means to you. Hint: it doesn’t mean that you simply find the person to be likable. Dig deep to ensure that you share the same values, and that they’re interested because they see a meaningful connection to the work you’re doing (and not just looking for a pay check).

2. Build an accurate job description

Without one, people will work in a vacuum without knowing what’s truly expected of them, you may not focus their energy on the priorities which drive growth, and you’ll have no baseline for assessing who’s killing it, and who’s just scraping by.

3. Worst case, don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong and let someone go. Just do it early.

One of my clients kept a poor fitting employee on the payroll for six years. Six years of headaches, six years of termination pay and severance, and six years of mess that I had to try and clean up. If you truly feel that despite all efforts someone isn’t working out, be honest with yourself that you made a mistake and be prepared to let them go. Speak with an employment lawyer before you do anything, but don’t just hope that everything will magically get better, or pray that the person leaves on their own.

The entrepreneurs at my table heard that I’ve probably interviewed about 5,000 people over my career—and that I still make plenty of mistakes. Hiring people isn’t easy—there are no ‘apples to apples’ comparisons you can make and no guarantees, but if you stay true to what you want to achieve, honour who you are as a person, and accept no mediocrity or compromises along the way, you’ll soon be surrounded by the same like-minded, purpose-driven individuals that you can share your journey with, and that’s one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur!

Written By: Glenn Nishimura, Chief People Strategist, Nishimura Consulting and Futurpreneur Mentor

About Glenn: Glenn Nishimura is the Chief People Strategist at Nishimura Consulting, and a Futurpreneur mentor. He helps entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses across North America and Europe to build strong company cultures and smart people practices. Connect with him at 416.566.6892, or glenn@nishimuraconsulting.ca