There are similarities between the strategic approach of putting together a strong fantasy team and evaluating applicants for a successful startup. As in fantasy football, you are drafting a dream team that will make your startup a winner. This takes an approach that is less focused on misleading things like stats, various skills, and star status.
Here are three lessons you can take from drafting your fantasy football team and apply to drafting your startup team:
Every player in fantasy football has stats that break down the player’s pervious performance that can be used to rank against other players for specific positions. But just because a player has had great stats for the past year or two, doesn’t mean that he will perform well.
A great receiver on a team with an injured quarterback will probably not do well that season, but you wouldn’t be able to see this just from the stats. Fantasy football fanatics will tell you to look past the stats, and do your due diligence.
Likewise, startups shouldn’t hire people based solely on their candidates’s resumes. The stats from resumes give useful information about the candidate’s professional experience, but it doesn’t give the full picture.
Not everyone is cut out for the startup work environment, and most importantly your startup’s culture. Work hours and responsibilities can change rapidly as the startup grows, which means people have to be very comfortable in a flexible (and sometimes chaotic) work environment.
Look past the resume and ask the important questions during the interview that will give you the answers you need to qualify them for the position and for your team. If you’re still not sure, then it’s time to call and question the references. Work ethic, ambition, drive, and flexibility are all crucial factors of a strong candidate for a growing startup.
In fantasy football, you’re looking to hire top players who specialize in specific positions on the team: quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, etc. This translates well to hiring for a startup.
When hiring, you should be looking for people with strengths that complement the weaknesses of the team. Just because you’re doing a little bit of everything, doesn’t mean you should surround yourself with people doing the same. If you have too many people who are jacks-of-all-trades then you’ll be facing a situation where your team doesn’t have any strength in any specific areas.
Before you think of hiring a sales person that can also do the accounting, you should take a step back and consider if the budget allows hiring two people instead to get the most value from each position.
Just because you have the best player on your team, doesn’t mean that you’ll win the league.
For every celebrity football player with a multi-million-dollar contract, there is a line of hungry players who have the skills, drive, and ambition to prove that they are a top-tier player.
While most people tend to focus on getting the top players for their team, fantasy football veterans are strategically looking for “sleepers” that will take their team to victory.
Look past the resume and hire for the team. Hiring an expert at the expense of your team can cost you your chance at victory. Focus on hiring people who have the talent, drive, and ambition to take their skills to the next level.
A startup consisting of over-performing and talented members can have a contagious effect on the team and have a higher chance of making it to the winner’s circle.
—Danny Boice is the cofounder & president of Speek. Speek lets users do conference calls with a simple link (speek.com/YourName) rather than using phone numbers and PINs. Boice attended Harvard, is an adjunct professor at Georgetown, and was recently named a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine. You can find Danny on Twitter @DannyBoice or LinkedIn here.