This article was written as a blog post for AptoZen, an Intrax company.
Facebook’s motto, “Move fast and break things,” has been embraced as a mantra of the create-now, fix-later startup culture. It’s a culture that attracts dreamers and doers who are energized by glittering product launches, new releases, and feature enhancements. Then on they go to the next shiny thing.
By definition, though, a startup isn’t forever. There comes a day when your adolescent company grows up to be a mature, going concern. And someone has to start worrying about the day-to-day. Bills need to be paid, customers served, and facilities managed. This is where a knack for fixing things may be more important than breaking things.
While you and your team are scurrying about inventing, the talent that will allow your company to scale up is likely to come from a more traditional setting. Consider these advantages of hiring corporate experience for your growing startup:
Depth of knowledge. There are some things you don’t have to invent. Wisdom comes with experience, and as your business scales up, why not bring on someone with larger scale experience in their portfolio? Chances are, they’ve tried and tested a lot of the things you’ve yet to encounter.
Adding structure and discipline. Your growing company is headed for trouble if you don’t take care of the things the big guys deal with every day. Trouble can come in the form of legal and regulatory challenges, human resources, or costly overhead. A corporate hire can bring the discipline of documented procedures, compliance knowledge, and efficient systems. You may not get out of bed excited about tackling these issues, but they need to be done.
Industry contacts. The right person with corporate experience can open the door to potential customers, vendors, partners, and investors. They can get you a place at the table and build credibility where you may have struggled due to lack of history and brand awareness.
Mentoring. Good leaders know what they know and they know what they don’t know. Bringing in someone from outside the startup world allows you and your team to tap into a new perspective. Look for someone who will be a sounding board and coach, and open yourself to what you can learn and apply to your business.
Hiring from the corporate world for your startup comes with its potential pitfalls as well. You’ll need to be ready to deal with team members who feel overshadowed or intimidated by an outsider, especially if you’re leaning on them for strategic advice and guidance. It’s also important to recognize that your corporate hire may not immediately mesh with the culture of your young company. Like any relationship, it will take some flexibility on both sides to integrate them. Be sure to respect their smarts and don’t just try to stuff them into a mold.
While moving fast and breaking things is still the ethos of many in the startup world, in 2014 Mark Zuckerberg announced a new, admittedly less sexy motto for Facebook: “Move fast with stable infra,” recognizing that to sustain company growth they needed to take on some of the characteristics of a larger, corporate organization. Growing up doesn’t have to be painful, especially with the right team in place.