There's really never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. Markets are bigger than ever, ways to reach consumers keep growing, niches are constantly expanding, and unique branding is cheap and accessible. At the same time, there's maybe never been a more difficult time to be an entrepreneur.
The competition among startups is fierce, customers are less loyal while always expecting more, and success relies on an ever-expanding range of skills, knowledge, and innovation. So, with that in mind, let's talk about one of the hardest questions that nearly every entrepreneur faces at one point or another: Who do you hire?
If you put your vision in the wrong hands, everything you've worked for could slip down the drain overnight, so how do you decide who to trust?
A young Steve Jobs had a compelling answer
Iconic co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs clearly exercised some good judgment in the hiring department on his way to creating an empire based on a computer hand-built in his parents' garage. Even in the 1980s, before Apple became the international and cultural icon that it is today, a young Steve Jobs was dispensing entrepreneurial wisdom beyond his years. Jobs confidently imparted the wisdom in an archived interview: "The greatest people are self-managing. They don't need to be managed at all. What they need is a common vision, and that's what leadership is." Jobs continued:
"What leadership is, is having a vision, being able to articulate that so that people around you can understand it, and getting a consensus on a common vision."
How do you accomplish that?
That's the real question, right? How do you get those people, who, "once they know what to do, they go and figure out how to do it," to come work for you?
Here's the answer: You go out and find those people who want to work toward your vision because it's something they really believe in, too.
In the same interview, Apple developer Andy Hertzfeld described part of Apple's hiring process in the early days, which involved sitting interviewees down in front of the Macintosh computer.
Hertzfeld said, "If they were kind of bored with it, or said, 'This is a nice computer,' we didn't want them. We wanted their eyes to light up, wanted them to get really excited, and then we knew they were one of us."
Maybe it should go without saying that if you want to sell motorcycles, don't hire someone who's never ridden one, or if your vision is for a revolutionary hair care product, a bald employee might not be your best bet.
All jokes aside, Jobs was clearly on to something, cracking the code to leadership, which reinforces that there is nothing more crucial to the success of your company than being absolutely certain that who you bring on board understands and is aligned with your vision.