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Outsmart Yourself: Hire People Who Know What You Don’t

by / ⠀Startup Advice / August 2, 2012

No one is the best at everything. And when it comes to running a business, you simply can’t do it all. Many entrepreneurs have a variety of great skills, but may be lacking in some essential areas. It can be difficult to admit that you’re not the best in every aspect of your business, but because that’s probably the reality, it’s imperative to employ people talented in the areas you’re not.

Why You Should Diversify Your Company’s Talent

This is not an exercise in humility. There are unquestionable benefits to hiring people who know what you don’t. Highly intelligent people are likely to know how to communicate their strengths and can positively challenge their bosses (i.e., you). They don’t limit themselves to merely their job descriptions, but instead, they think outside the box; this is a highly useful trait in a world where everyone is constantly trying to out-innovate everyone else.

You should hire people who are more skilled than you in areas that are important for your company’s growth. It’s up to you to determine what a good end result is, and to effectively communicate with your employees to achieve the desired outcome.

When to Hire

So how can you tell when it’s time to hire outside talent? Apart from recognizing an area or two where you lack the sufficient skills, something might be too much for you to handle on your own if:

  • It’s draining: If a certain task de-energizes you, it’s making you less efficient and more distracted.
  • It’s inefficient: If the cost of doing it yourself is more expensive than hiring someone else, you’re wasting valuable time and money.
  • It’s going to take a while: If you have enough work to keep the talent busy for some time, then engage their minds while yours is occupied elsewhere.

Additionally, I would never bring in outside talent just to close a deal with an important client. As a business owner, you are probably experienced enough to handle that task on your own – and it speaks volumes to a big client that you took the time to meet with him.

What to Look for in a Candidate

You should look for a skillful combination of experience and raw talent. Shy away from people with only great potential. A person with experience will trump someone who merely shows potential every time. He’ll be less expensive and time-consuming to train, and he’ll hopefully bring new perspectives from his previous experiences.

It also doesn’t hurt to look for people who have an entrepreneurial spirit. These people are typically proactive and motivated, which means less micromanaging for you. Just make sure you have the proper nondisclosure or non-compete agreement so you don’t inadvertently create a new competitor.

How to Interview

When interviewing, it’s a good idea to get to know the candidates before you talk about what you’re looking for. This lessens the chance of them saying things simply because they know it’s what you want to hear. I like to ask applicants what their long-term goals are; where do they see themselves in five or ten years? If the position you’re offering will help a candidate reach his life goals, then this is a big indicator that he is worth pursuing. As long as you’re meeting an employee’s personal needs, he’s likely to stay loyal for a very long time.

Depending on what the position is, you can have candidates do a sample project as part of the interview and see who delivers the best end product. For example, if you’re hiring a designer, have the candidates design a logo for a new client. If you’re hiring a marketer, ask the prospects to draft a proposal for a campaign you’re working on.

I’ve always lived by the “hire slow, fire fast” motto. I think it’s worthwhile to spend as much time as you need to pick the right people for your team. At first, you might consider hiring someone as a contractor or freelancer to see if he’s a good fit. After a week or two, you’ll have a good idea of how he performs in the work environment and if he meets your company’s needs.

In the End

When you build a team of highly skilled talent and let your team work together, you’ve done your job right. It’s like a general manager building his sports team. You want to have the right talent in the right positions.

No matter how smart your employees are, it’s up to your leadership skills to motivate, communicate, and set proper goals to keep the talent in the company. You are the thermostat. You set the work temperature. Play it smart and the laws of attraction will benefit your business by drawing the talent to you.

Peter Nguyen is currently the creator and CEO behind Advertiser360, the most comprehensive course ever created to help people build their own product or service online. Peter has launched nine highly successful Internet startups over the past decade as a serial entrepreneur and is one of the most highly-south Internet marketing consultants in the direct response and affiliate marketing space.

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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