15 Ways Startups Can Attract Top Talent on a Budget

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / March 24, 2014

Q. Other than equity, how can young startups can attract talent on a budget?

find team

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Have a Great Culture

Money isn’t everything when it comes to employment. Many extremely talented people will take a smaller salary for a better work environment. Invest in your company’s culture, and you might be able to snag some A+ talent on a tight budget. Model companies such as Zappos and Mindvalley do this consistently!
– Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

2. Relocate Talent

Hire and then relocate talent from cities and regions of the country where demand isn’t as high, opportunities are few and far between, and competition among employers hasn’t pushed salaries to stratospheric levels. Southwest flights are cheap; Skype is great for interviews, and a $3,000 to $5,000 relocation allowance is easily offset by a lower starting salary.
Matt Mickiewicz, Hired

3. Be Passionate

Be passionate about whatever you are doing. People want excitement and importance in their lives.
– Jonathan Swerdlin, Fdbk

4. Emphasize Your Company’s Social Impact

People want to find meaning in their lives, and they want to feel like they are making a positive contribution to global society and a positive impact on humanity. Therefore, if you want top talent for free or below market rates, sell the case that your startup (only if it’s true) is making a genuine impact, and its help can make this impact materialize. This worked for Sterio.me.
Christopher Pruijsen, Sterio.me

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5. Encourage Professional Development

We encourage and seek out opportunities for our team to learn as much as possible. For those companies on a budget, take a one-on-one mentorship role, and offer your employees a library of books on leadership, management and happiness. If you are afforded the opportunity to send them away for conferences and seminars, go for it.
– Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency

6. Let Your Staff Make the Pitch

A startup owner obviously believes in his or her vision for the company, so it’s expected that you’ll tell prospective employees how great your business is. But what will really convince them is having your staff members share what they like best about their jobs. When candidates hear and see this enthusiasm, they’ll see why joining your team is about more than money and equity.
Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group

7. Offer What Larger Companies Cannot

Work environment, flexibility and vision are three things young entrepreneurs have the ability to offer that other larger companies cannot. Being able to work a flexible schedule in an environment that is energetic and fun while pursuing a common goal that benefits everyone is a great way for entrepreneurs to attract talent.
Joseph P. DeWoody, Clear Fork Royalty

8. Live the Life You Champion

We’re a health startup, so we take our team’s health super seriously. We pay fully for health insurance, reimburse for travel, provide free gym memberships, hold “happiness audits,” and more — all in an effort to communicate how much we mean what we say. It shows, and people profoundly appreciate it.
– Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

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9. Implement Profit Sharing

This is similar to equity, but you’re offering to give a percentage of the profits generated to your top talent. It allows you to retain equity for capital. In the short term, it allows your talent to be more invested in the company than they would be with a straight salary.
– Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

10. Showcase Learning Opportunities

Often the best talent is attracted and highly motivated through the opportunity to learn and grow their professional careers. Even more seasoned talent is willing to take a pay cut to feel engaged and work in an environment where they’ll learn.
– Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind

11. Present a Challenge

Talented people have numerous choices when it comes to finding a startup to work at. The one thing people overlook is that talented people like a challenge and want to make a difference using their skills. Nothing is more gratifying than conquering a challenge and watching a startup move forward because of it.
Phil Chen, Givit

12. Give Them Ownership

While money and equity are somewhat important, people work for startups because they can make an impact. Painting the picture for the candidate during the recruiting process that she’s key to driving the company’s growth and her actions will impact the company can get the candidate excited about the opportunity.
– Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

13. Show Transparency

As a startup, you can attract talent with the promise of transparency. What types of discussions and decisions are your employees privy to? Do these types of discussions and decisions typically happen behind closed doors at larger, more established companies? Chances are the answer is yes; leverage this to attract ambitious talent.
– Katie Finnegan, Hukkster

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14. Empower Them

People want to be a part of something that can make a difference in the world. Be passionate about your cause and open and honest about your vision. Empower your employees to do what they think will help your company succeed. They want to have a hand in making a difference and will be excited to join your team.
– Thomas Cullen, LaunchPad Lab

15. Embrace Open Source

Great developers — who everyone is trying to find — want to create a name for themselves in the open source community. Make open source contributions a part of your culture.
– Neal Taparia, Imagine Easy Solutions

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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