We all wish we’d worked for Facebook or Google or Intuit or HP before they went public.  We’d all be retired by now, or close, or funding our own new ventures.  But as some smart jerk says, hindsight is 20-20.  How can we identify start-ups that are taking off before they’re saturated with interested candidates and investors? I ask three big questions of any potential client before deciding to bring them on and inform my network about them.

 

1. What are you selling?  How do you differ from your competitors?  Do you face the market differently?  Did you develop a proprietary technology that will sink everyone else?  Are you faster?  Smarter?  Easier or more efficient?  Are you the Kia or Rolls Royce of your industry?  Beware of buzz words (link).  Let’s see some data to really distinguish you from your competition.

2. Who are your leaders?  Did they come from tried and true companies?  Have they successfully lead companies to IPO or acquisition in the past?  Will they (and should they) act as mentors to new hires?

3. Do I want to spend my entire day at your office?  What’s the culture?  Have you invested in benefit packages, retirement investment strategies, gym memberships, internal communications models?  Are your employees friends?  Do you offer growth opportunities, assigned mentors, clear goals, and consistent support?  Significant equity, green territories, creative freedom, collaborative work sessions? 

 

Rarely does a start-up offer all of these things, and more often than not many components are missing (or have yet to be built out) but these are all important factors to consider.  As a job seeker, you would be remiss not to fully understand what you’re walking into.  Because start-ups hire quickly, you may want to engage before you write off a company, and a lot of these factors can be determined via your interview process.  Talk to your Betts recruiter about these questions and ensure they align with your values and expectations. 

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Comment by Gordon Basichis on February 14, 2012 at 6:20pm

In general, we do financial vetting and corporate research for a lot of different industries.  For the most part it is not related to staffing and recruiting groups but more for mergers and acquisitions, companies that have landed new clients and want to be sure of the little things, whether the new client can actually pay them.  Whatever you do, and however you proceed, an ounce of prevention, research, whatever, is most definitely worth that pound of cure.   Find out what you can up front, as chasing a client who owes you money is usually more a case of diminishing returns.  Clients call us with the sad stories in the aftermath of a transaction.   Get what you need up front.

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