"What should I most focus my efforts on when executing the plan for my startup? is a great question, one I frequently receive.
Its importance jumped out at me this morning when I read the following note from Mercy Ships, a Christian sponsored non-profit organization that brings free medical services to the poor around the world, notable from ships docking along the coasts of Africa.
As a non-profit organization Mercy Ships is constantly seeking talented seafarers to meet the demand for qualified crew in our ship. Our recruiters attend job fairs and recruitment venues looking for Deck and Engineer Officers, Able Sea-farers and Ratings, but the reality is there is a worldwide shortage of qualified ships workers, and shipping companies who can pay big salaries are also looking for them as well.
In the article entitled The Next Agenda: The War to Develop Talent, Jeff Schwartz offers a description of the current shortage of qualified workers (talent) in the business world. He says: “The concern is not about the availability of workers; it is, rather, about the shortage of critical skills, experiences and specialized capabilities of leaders, managers, creators and producers required in changing industries.” For Schwartz the real issue is not a lack of workers, but a lack of workers with the necessary skills to succeed in a changing market place.
So you are not alone! Unfortunately.
The point for founders of startups is simple: Line up, recruit, entice your best people before you begin your startup. They will form your Core Team. They will do the bulk of the recruiting, so be sure they are able and experienced at finding, attracting and retaining the finest talent. You will need every sharp brain you can find if you are to deliver on your business plan.
You will be competing intensely with vast numbers of hiring organizations. We live in a global economy. Recruiting startup talent now routinely crosses borders to find talented people with passports, mobile phones, laptops, each confortable flying to whatever job sounds interesting. We live in the era of the most mobile labor force in history, even for startups.
Knowing how to find and keep the top, the best, people is a skill set eagerly sought in founders of startups financed by the best venture capital firms. They see you and your core team as a recruiting machine, able to at least double the number of great people each year added to your new enterprise, year after year. So if you are not yet at that level, start working on it. Get social, get in contact, get going, right now. Investors will pound on you about your recruiting abilities during your presentations.
Assemble a group of people to support your recruiting efforts. Find recruiters, contact them, get them thinking about your startup even before you have begun. Locate contract human resources experts who work with startups during the earliest stages. Add angels who have been there before, who know how challenging your first two years will be when you are seeking to add critical skilled talent to your startup. And start talking to other startup people, especially other founder CEOs. Listen to their stories and learn how to recruit to win.
BOTTOM LINE: People are what you need to build your startup. Top skills, great talent. So you have to build an organization of amazing people who can recruit and win against the world's most intense competition for talented people. When you respect the importance of this mandate, you'll add a key element to building your unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!