We Hire the Best, Just Like Everyone Else

One of the most common bits of advice you'll get as a startup is this:

Only hire the best. The quality of the people that work at your company will be one of the biggest factors in your success – or failure.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://blog.codinghorror.com/we-hire-the-best-just-like-everyone-else/

Forgive me if I’m missing something, but why do the percentages in the ‘top 20 reasons for startup failure’ not add to 100?

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What are some of your experiences with turning people down after having them on the team for a while (even if it is a short time, you can quickly develop rapport)?

So conduct a blind programming test before speaking to them to rule out bias?

Because the top 20 is not the full set of reasons

Thank you for the link to "myth of years of expeiance"
I was just yesterday on an interview where i was literally pounded down by the VP R&D for not having enough experience… And here I am just wanting to prove him how much I can give him back for providing a chance…

I do belive someone will see beyond the screen of experience and will provide me with a chance, the question how much time will it take (-;…

This explanation only works when the numbers add to less than 100%. The first four exceed 100.

How do you handle payroll issues with people in different states and countries? I hear this is one of the issues that can become super complicated with taxes, etc.

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Simple. Failure reasons are not unique, a failure can and usually does have multiple reasons.

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Not really,
You work as a freelancer / independent contractor and the company pays you your salary, you pay the taxs in your country.
The hassle is on you, for most parts

That was what I was getting at, are all of these people actually employees or contractors? If they are all contractors I think it negates much of the article as contractors can be replaced much easier than an employee.

Sorry…multiple reasons for failure.
I failed because I ran out of money and I didn’t listen to my customers and
I didn’t pivot.

because failing reason can be more than one. If you select more reason as single entity, there will be more percentage.

Huge tech companies get rid of “actual employees” easily all the time, even in their most profitable years.

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I’m happy with them to “hire the best” as long as they are willing to “pay the best.” As a programmer, salary is what I’m more interested in.

At one company I worked for, the CEO actually said in a company meeting, “we are not trying to hire the best, we are looking for programmers around the 50th percentile.” His implication was that he didn’t want to pay too much. Some of the programmers felt really insulted by that.

I get a chuckle out of someone claiming “20 years of experience”, but when you dig deeper, it turns out they have 1 year of experience 20 times over. I bump into this from time to time, people who have been doing essentially the exact same job, with the same tools and skills, for a long time. They haven’t learned anything new, they’ve found a groove (or a rut) and just can’t get out of it.

One approach is to have your new “hire” form their own corporation (trivial to do in most Canadian provinces at least), and then you contract their services through their corporation. Now the problem of taxes and such is on them, not on you as an employer (you’re just using the services of another corporation).

It depends on a number of factors. Employees are usually governed by a combination of employment law and “industry practice”, as well as any personal services contracts they have with the company. In some countries, firing an employee can be incredibly onerous, if not impossible. In others (where they may be “at will” employees), termination can simply be giving them pay in lieu of notice and walking them to the door. A contractor is covered exclusively by their contract, and how hard or easy it is to get rid of them depends on the terms of the contract.

I love the first graph. It shows how versatile the “best”-word can be in such a context:

  • If you have the best programmers in the world but they failed to help you identify when/where to pivot, you fail.
  • If you have the best programmers in the world but let them run too fast and burn, you fail.
  • If you have the best programmers in the world but let their ego/drive ignore customer feedback, you fail.

There is no definition for “the best” beside a “well balanced human being”…

I have been researching this exact space for the past few months www.developersjourney.info and am now more and more convinced that once you reach a technical-threshold, in order to close onto “better-developers”, you need to hunt for the 3-C-values: create, care and criticize. A balanced team should be a patchwork of cultures, backgrounds, desires and skills. But I think the drive toward those 3-Cs isn’t optional…

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Given 3 people:
67% are above the age of 18
67% are female

Apply that same overlapping logic to the top 20 reasons an unspecified amount of startups failed.