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Startup Hiring: When One Entrepreneur Is Enough

job hire . / Credit: Hiring Promotion Image via Shutterstock

Chris Lucas, Vice President of Business Development at Formstack, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

At some point in the late nineties or early millennium, some clever HR person in Silicon Valley created the perfect sounding job description for his or her startup and it contained the line "looking for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit." Ever since, that line has been written and rewritten in the job descriptions of thousands of startups.

But here's the thing — most startups don't need another entrepreneur. They don't need a neurotic, Type-A guy (or girl) that doesn't even know what an attention span is. Okay, so maybe that is a bit of a broad brush, but beware of hiring too many of those "entrepreneurial spirits" during the early stages of your startup.

[Hiring 101: Finding the Right Person for the Job]

This type of hire likes the rush of the start but will fizzle at the finish. He or she could quickly leave when another hot startup pops up or when the business progresses past the initial stages. Most startups are fine with one or two of these early visionary types, but they need a different person as the second, third, or twenty-third hire. What they need is the "WANT-trepreneur."

The Want-repreneur is the guy or girl that will someday become the entrepreneur — the ones who have the curiosity to build and explore new ideas, but haven't developed the full-on "entrepreneurial spirit" that so many employers claim to want.

The Want-repreneur is:

  • The developer who has 13 side projects, but none have turned into a real business yet. They need to understand the business development aspect of a startup.
  • The marketing coordinator who has a million ideas, but just needs a developer to turn them into tangible products.
  • The designer who has the chops to polish up an aging software product but can also, given a blank slate, make a new piece of software look as if Midas touched it himself.

These people, the ones who haven't fully settled into a life of building their own business, will move your business forward. Want-repreneurs can solve problems, wear five hats and, most importantly, keep a project moving past the planning stages.

[Personality Types Every Company Should Hire]

You can train want-repreneurs to manage and to lead. These employees are notable because they are willing to learn and to understand how businesses should be run. They might want to someday leave and launch their own ventures, but they know that they aren't quite ready. They possess the inner entrepreneurial qualities, but the outer dedication to learning and understanding their craft. Additionally, they will be loyal to you and your brand in the future because you prepared them for their own startup success.

Formstack is built with these people. Many might someday leave to pursue their own ventures. We are okay with that, because for now they are executing on the daily tasks required for us to be successful, learning how the business is being run and questioning decisions — in a good way.

To build your company, quit asking for the "entrepreneurial spirits" on your job description. Stop hiring entrepreneurs and start hiring want-repreneurs. It will grow your business and grow your industry.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.