The Real Reasons Your Startup Is Struggling to Find Talent

Living that startup life isn't always the overnight success story you dreamed it would be.

It's a lot of hard work, time spent learning skills you never thought you'd need, and asking people for help. (And money.)

After launching your startup, you quickly realize: Wow. There is a ton of things to do. I am totally overwhelmed right now.

Sure, you could try, but you'd probably just end up exhausted and discouraged. Why? Without the help of others who have the skills that you're lacking, it's impossible for your business to reach its maximum potential.

Basically, you need help.

But how? As a startup, people aren't knocking on your door, asking to join you. Those people are lining up at Google and Facebook. You need talent, but you don't quite know how to find it.

So how do you find those magical beings that have the exact talents you're looking for?

You stop doing what's not working, and start replacing those ineffective strategies with solid and workable ones.

I've been privileged to work with a lot of startups, and I see a lot of mistakes being made. I wrote this article, because I want to share the mistakes I've observed and help you to avoid them.

Hopefully, by eliminating these struggles, you'll be able to find outstanding talent.

Reason #1: You're looking in the wrong places.

This is probably the most likely option: you've been looking for talent in all the wrong places.

The internet has about a billion online tools for finding employees, which makes the idea of sorting through all of those potential candidates incredibly overwhelming.

Of course, posting to as many sites as possible will give you a better chance of finding people, but you might be wasting your time if your methods aren't really attracting the right people.

There's zero value in 100 resumes, if you're looking in the wrong places.

When you are finding a source for locating candidates, here are some things that will be helpful to keep in mind:

  • Determine whether you want to make a full-time in-person hire or whether you want to outsource the task to a freelancer. This simplifies the process, and can point you to a place such as Upwork for easy-to-find talent at an affordable cost.
  • Don't be afraid to sing your own praises (without sounding like a jerk, of course) and the benefits of working at a startup. By being honest about the awesomeness of your startup's potential, you'll help to attract better talent.
  • Don't just judge someone on their work history, but also their potential for growth. Sometimes the super experienced candidate can bring the wrong attitude or old habits that won't work for your new company.
  • Prepare a solid onboarding process and ask your potential new hire what would help them do their best in the role. It's possible to hire someone who's very talented, but they "fail," because they weren't trained to do the job correctly.

Don't forget the power of word of mouth, too.

You shouldn't hesitate to ask your friends, current and past work contacts, or anyone else you trust to ask around for you.

Reason #2: You're wasting your time networking.

I'm not saying that networking isn't essential to having a successful business and finding the right people, but WAY too much emphasis has been put on it in recent years.

When you put all of your hope into networking you end up putting way too much energy into worrying about first impressions to the point where it ruins people's actual first impression of you.

So how do you find your people without wasting your time at all those happy hours and get togethers?

When you're at one of those kinds of events don't bother killing yourself trying to meet everyone there. One or two meaningful conversations (they don't even have to be about work!) is way more valuable than collecting everyone's business cards.

Networking isn't always the best place to find a candidate, but it could expand your social reach in the right directions.

Reason #3: You already have the right people but you're struggling with expectations, delegation, or micromanagement.

It might feel like you're stuck doing all the work because, well, you are. You may be micromanaging everything and not even realize it.

Here's the real tragedy: You might already have the right talent and people in place, and the real lack is you, the manager.

It kind of stings, I know.

Micromanagement is a huge hurdle to overcome.

Giving up control over a project can be super hard, especially if it's your own startup. The danger here is that, even if you have the best intentions, you're going to make things harder by creating extra churn.

Worse yet, if you try to do everything yourself you're probably just going to exhaust yourself and then you'll have a hard time getting your own work done.

Employee development is another issue. You may not hire a miracle working right off the bat, but you can help this employee develop. It could take a few months, but with the right expenditure of time and effort, you can help him or her develop in amazing ways.

If you're stuck in a cycle of constant employee turnover, or you feel like it takes a million revisions to get anything done, you might just be the problem. Giving up that control might feel hard, but in the end it's going to make everyone's job easier.


Hiring the right employee can prove to be a surprisingly difficult task.

However, if you learn how to sell the position well, you put time into building your network in a way that's actually worthwhile, and you strive to create a great environment to work in, the right people will find their way to you.

What traits do you look for in the ideal employee or partner?