As startup tools and resources become more accessible, the playing field continues to level. Around 305 million startups are founded annually, yet only 40 percent become profitable. So, how do you ensure you belong to that 40 percent? It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of entrepreneurship— choosing your logo, building your website, and showcasing your brand. However, none of these things necessarily translate to revenue.
To reach the tipping point and actually meet a market need, you should be able to answer these seven questions confidently and with conviction.
1. What problem does your product or service solve?
In a few sentences, you should be able to clearly articulate the gap in the market— saving time or money, improving productivity, enhancing the customer experience, or solving a customer’s pain point or frustration—that you fill with your product or service. If you can’t immediately call out how you solve a problem, it’s unlikely customers will gravitate to your product or service long-term, no matter how attractive your brand is.
2. Who is your target audience?
Your customer personas should be well-documented and strategic, outlining things like:
Strategic customer personas go beyond simply describing the target audience. They delve into the customer’s motivations, goals, pain points, and challenges. They should be created based on in-depth research—including surveys, focus groups, and customer feedback to ensure accuracy and relevance.
In doing this, you will immediately clarify your target market audience and, ideally, know precisely how to reach them. As SurveyMonkey puts it, “Buyer personas let you get to know your target customers like you know your friends, so you can talk to them about your products in a personal way that highlights the benefits that are important to them.”
If you cannot describe your target audience intimately, it’s unlikely you’ll know how to work with them long-term.
3. What is your unique selling proposition?
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is more than just a marketing buzzword that will define your messaging long-term. It’s your “elevator pitch,” and it should answer the following questions:
Customers are overwhelmed with options and should be able to understand what makes your product or service different immediately. Your USP will be the key to positioning yourself and your startup to stand out instead of blending in. Here are 15 strong USPs and an explanation of why they are effective.
It should be easy for you to call this to mind, considering it will act as your core messaging.
4. What is your pricing and go-to market strategy?
You should be able to explain your strategy and justify your pricing based on your product or service’s value. Your pricing strategy should consider your costs, your competition, and your target audience’s willingness to pay.
Startups can generate revenue in many different ways—subscriptions, advertising, direct sales, etc.—so you need to know, in advance, how your revenue will generate and sustain over time.
Your go-to-market strategy will go hand-in-hand with your pricing strategy. It is propped up by five pillars—product analysis, product messaging, the sales proposition, marketing strategy, and sales strategy.
You should be able to speak to all these things and have intimate knowledge of your sales and marketing process and strategy.
5. Who are your competitors, and how will you differentiate?
Answering this question requires a thorough knowledge of the marketplace and your competitors because, when starting a business, competition is the greatest challenge. Ideally, you will have done adequate market research before launching your startup so that you are acutely aware of your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your industry competition.
An easy way to keep this information top of mind is to conduct regular SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses to identify how your competitors are operating and what you can do to stay ahead.
6. Why do your customers choose to work with you?
It’s critical to understand why your customers are choosing you, and you should be able to call this information to mind easily. This will only come from talking with your customers, and the most successful startups make a habit of this.
Ask questions like:
Keep answers to these questions well-documented so you can continue reaching and converting your key customer personas.
7. How will you measure success?
Perhaps most importantly, you should be able to answer the question of how you will measure the success of your startup. This may include metrics such as revenue, customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, or brand awareness. You should be able to explain how you will measure success and your goals for each metric.
Without the answer to this question, you cannot run campaigns effectively, acquire funding, or even hire effectively. When your goals are clear, it will be easy for you to adapt and pivot in the early stages of your startup’s operations.
By having a clear and concise answer to these questions, you can ensure that your startup meets your customers’ needs and is successful in an increasingly volatile market.
This blog was written by Chad Witherell.
You may think it’s easy to reverse course after a hiring mistake at your startup. Simply terminate the bad hire and move forward—no harm done.
Here’s the reality: A bad hire can have long-term, detrimental effects on your startup.
So, what’s the real cost of a bad hire?
When it comes to financials, the U.S. Department of Labor’s estimate is simple—a bad hire will cost you, on average, at least 30 percent of the individual’s first-year expected earnings.
The cost to your team’s morale, however, is harder to quantify.
Depending on the rank of the bad hire, your operations can take months to recover. Your data may be muddled as a result of mishandling, and their direct reports may be on the verge of leaving themselves, if they have not already. Trust in your leadership may be permanently damaged.
Needless to say, hiring is not something you should take lightly, especially at a startup. In fact, 14 percent of startups fail due to not having the right team.
We’ve compiled five common hiring mistakes that startups tend to make and how you can adjust your hiring practices to ensure your new hires are in it for the long haul:
If you bring intentionality into your hiring practices, your startup’s recruitment process will evolve into a well-oiled machine—no bait and switch necessary.
An emphasis on “culture” often leads startups to become a caricature of themselves.
Ping-pong tables, frequent happy hours, and pizza parties are all well and good. If you carry a “work hard, play hard” mentality to your operations, it’s not wrong to look for alignment in potential new hires.
You’re only human—of course, you will have an affinity toward individuals you generally “like.” But be cautious of hiring someone simply because you’re personally aligned with them, separate from whether or not they are qualified for the job you need to fill.
How to avoid this hiring mistake: Diversify your interviewing team. If you are the CEO, you can and should be as involved as you want, but make sure there are multiple touchpoints for new hires so that one individual’s personal bias does not overwhelm a candidate’s actual background and experience.
Stay with us here—we promise we’re not crazy.
As we said, culture fit should not be the only thing you consider as you hire. But, let’s say you do have a “work hard, play hard” value system deeply integrated into your culture. If you disregard culture fit and hire someone who is all business and more stringent in their workplace interactions, you will quickly see this person’s department suffer from severe culture misalignment.
Their team will likely get whiplash from the deviations, and it will severely impact morale. You may also see this person siloed, as their interactions with others on the team will be strained.
How to avoid this hiring mistake: Ask for references and try to dig for how their professional relationships tend to exist. Even if they list references who are sure to speak highly of their outcomes, you can still uncover truths about how a potential hire operates culturally.
One of the most common hiring mistakes at a startup is seeing a gap in skills internally and immediately rushing to fill that gap with a full-time hire.
Many founders suffer from “shiny object syndrome” (we say this with love). Wanting to fill your C-suite immediately, or hire for the latest trending position on LinkedIn, is tempting, and we get that.
But hiring on a whim puts you at risk for a sunk cost if you fail to think through whether that position will set you up for success in the long term.
How to avoid this hiring mistake: When you feel the pang of a skills gap, take some time to suss out whether this skill is only needed for the short term or is something you will need for multiple projects going forward. Bring your team into this thought process as well.
Just because other startups are making this same hire doesn’t mean you need it, too. You may have a different customer persona or audience or be B2B instead of B2C—there are so many components to a new position opening up. Identify your goals and evaluate what makes sense for you.
You might also consider outsourcing certain roles if the skills gap is for a single, short-term project. To put it simply, look before you leap! Not every skills gap should result in a full-time hire.
The words “recruitment,” “hiring,” and “onboarding” often go hand in hand and are used interchangeably. The truth is, these are three totally different practices.
If you have ironed out your hiring practices to make filling seats a seamless operation, that’s great. But that does not equate to a seamless onboarding experience for your new hire.
Too often, we hear stories about new startup hires who are handed a laptop, given a pat on the back, and expected to dive in headfirst to an entirely new culture and ecosystem.
Startup growth is enormously exciting, and the speed and efficiency of your hiring process should reflect that. But don’t discount what happens after the offer letter is signed—make sure your onboarding is just as optimized, intentional, and informative.
How to avoid this hiring mistake: Work with an expert to design an onboarding process that makes sense for your startup and culture.
Let’s take marketing as an example. When you decide to make your first marketing hire, there are two different frames of mind you can have.
Mindframe A: Most startups have marketing, so we need marketing. Let’s hire someone to “do marketing.”
Mindframe B: We need to increase our visibility and inbound leads. Let’s hire someone who knows how to operate within a set budget to bring more awareness to our brand and product and who can help sales generate more leads.
See the difference?
Your job descriptions shouldn’t be arbitrary. It’s likely that the roles of your early hires will evolve over time, but that doesn’t mean you should bring people in without having a set expectation of what they will accomplish.
It’s a waste of time because you will drive yourself crazy trying to measure their performance. It’s also a waste of their time because they will have no idea where to start when they are brought in, where they stand, or what their path for growth looks like.
How to avoid this hiring mistake: Outline exactly what you expect the new position to accomplish in their first 30, 60, and 90 days. You might even ask candidates this during the interview process. When you discuss these timelines, the outcomes discussed should be measurable—i.e.,talk to three customers, bring followers up to 1,000, or increase website traffic by 20 percent.
No matter how robust your screening process is, one or two misalignments might still work their way into your organization. The important thing is not to let their impact fester and to remove the “wound” before the infection spreads.
Startup founders are experiencing many things for the first time, including hiring; this will be a continual process of learning.
In the meantime, if you want to offload the recruiting and hiring process, Viaduct can help. Whether you are looking for full-time or contingent staff, Viaduct specializes in the placement of startup professionals that can bring your vision to life. Learn more about working with our team of recruiting experts here.
This blog was authored by Talent Consultant Sarah Garcia.
If you’re reading this blog, you have probably reached the point in your founder journey when you’re ready to start hiring.
First of all – congratulations! It’s an amazing milestone, and you should be proud. At the same time, you might be feeling overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be delegated, and where to start.
Expanding your team beyond just you is an exciting place to be, but it’s important to make strategic hires that will set you and your company up for success.
You’re in the right place. We’ll cover the two main pieces of your recruiting process:
Three key first hires for a startup
A systems person
The first key hire you should consider is a systems person. This individual will build out the systems to make your startup scalable, developing your standard operations procedures (SOPs,) key performance indicators (KPIs,) and more. Some titles you might consider for this individual:
In a nutshell, this person should be focused on the design and implementation of policies that promote growth and oversee operations to keep businesses on track.
What they’ll do
The next key hire you should make is your evangelist: your business development extraordinaire. The kind of one-in-a-million magnetic individual who could sell water to the ocean. This individual will be dedicated to spreading the word about your product or service, getting your name and solution into all the right rooms and in front of all the right people.
Some examples of titles might be:
In other words, this person will shift your vision from a singular product or service to an established organization.
WeWork describes it this way: “By helping to fund the continued existence of the business, business development at early-stage startups is fundamentally about creating long-term value for the organization.”
What they’ll do
A product (or service) person
Your final key hire should be your product person—the individual who will dedicate themselves to knowing your product, service, or solution inside and out.
Here are some examples of titles for this individual:
This person should not only inherit your vision for the product, but they should also begin to build their own vision based on customer use and feedback. They should know your customers better than anyone at the company, ensuring the product evolves to meet customer demand and needs. Their day-to-day responsibilities might look like:
Where to find hires for your startup
So, you know who you’re going to be looking for. Where do you find these candidates?
Working at a startup is not for the faint of heart, and you can’t just hire anyone. Where are some potential “watering holes” to find the right candidates?
Related: How Startups Can Hire Talent Quickly
Slack communities are growing in popularity, especially in the startup community, as a way to share ideas, innovations, best practices, and most importantly, recruit and job search.
Taskable listed the first 10 Slack communities you should consider joining as a startup founder here.
Social media, particularly LinkedIn, is a wonderful way to attract talent to your organization. You don’t even need to set up a dedicated business page before you, as a founder, can post to your personal account regarding your product, vision, and growth. This will build a community organically of people who will already have an understanding of who you are and what you do when you’re ready to hire.
Work with a talent acquisition and advisory firm
Building a qualified team that aligns with your organization’s mission and culture is essential for growth and success. Working with an agency can help speed up the hiring process and their market knowledge can help find higher-quality, specialized candidates who have the specific skills you need.
Viaduct is a one-stop talent solution that gives your most important resource—people—the attention they deserve. Viaduct offers contingent staffing, direct placement, and executive recruiting for whatever commitment or stage you’re at with your hiring. Contact our team today to learn more.
Hiring is an extraordinarily exciting marker to reach in your progress as a founder, so it’s important to take this step seriously. The team you assemble at the start will truly pave the way for your company’s direction and success.
This blog was written by Viaduct’s Roger Naglewski.
When it comes to onboarding for new team members, startups face a particular set of challenges:
Since you clicked to read this blog, chances are you’re acutely familiar with these challenges.
Here’s why we believe onboarding matters so much: As a startup, you likely don’t have the resources to manage high turnover, and reducing turnover starts with onboarding.
Below are five ways to optimize your onboarding process so that you can improve employee retention and position your team for growth.
1 – Complete logistics in between the accepted offer and their first day
Although it’s nearly impossible to avoid, starting a new job with a flood of paperwork and getting set up on new systems can quickly deplete your new team member’s energy levels as soon as they arrive.
One way to avoid this drain on time and energy is to use the interim time between the day the job offer is accepted and the start date to eliminate as many logistical tasks as possible.
This includes any paperwork on the employee’s end that they can complete virtually, but it also includes logistical preparation on your end. Get their desk and hardware set up. Recruit IT to set up any logins or intranet connections. Add them as users to your tech stack.
The idea is to make their first day as seamless as possible so that their main focus that day is assimilating.
2 – Arrange first-week meet and greets with everyone on the team
It seems like no matter how old we get, we’ll always have those first-day jitters. This can be especially true in a startup environment, where teams are typically close-knit and rapport can be tricky to keep up with if you are not already familiar with it.
Coordinated meet and greets can make relationship building a little less intimidating for your newest team member.
For in-person environments, a first-week team lunch or happy hour is a great way to engage with your newest team member. In addition, giving them an office tour on their first day can produce quick and organic introductions to break the ice.
If your team is remote, there are still ways to get your newest team member comfortable with the rest of the company. One way is to arrange 10-minute meetings with each team and prepare some fun icebreaker questions to get them talking. With the individual’s immediate team, consider a longer lunch to establish a better sense of familiarity.
It can be arranged by team, or even as one-on-ones, but making it a top-down initiative is a great way to take the pressure off your new team member to make his or her own introductions.
3 – Prepare a 90-day plan
When your startup team is already spread thin, it can be tempting to ask your newest team member to dive right in and begin to offload some of the tasks from the endless pile of work to keep things moving.
Instead of introducing the entire scope of the role all at once, allocate portions of the role into the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job. This can also be set up as a checklist to make the expectation even more clear.
As a new employee, it can be confusing or upsetting to find yourself with “nothing to do” while everyone around you is buried with work, but it’s hard to jump on a merry-go-round that is already spinning very quickly.
By providing a three-month runway for your new employees, you can establish a clear outline for what they can be working on if and when they have downtime.
4 – Assign a task or two to begin to establish expectations
Startup employees are typically go-getters who like to feel useful and genuinely want to hit the ground running. One way to give them a huge confidence boost is to assign them a project within the scope of their role that can get them comfortable with the pace and process of your company.
Even if it’s small, it’s an opportunity to mutually observe working styles.
5 – Establish a cadence to provide and collect feedback
Finally, make sure you are meeting with your new team member on a predetermined, regular schedule. This is an opportunity to touch base about questions they might have, address any confusion, and help ensure they don’t feel lost in the fold.
As your onboarding practices are tried and tested, be sure to document as much as possible. Collect feedback regularly on what makes your new hires the most confident and comfortable as a member of your team.
These practices will be the foundation of your team as you grow. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by investing in intentional onboarding.
This blog with written by Viaduct Recruitment Manager Chad Witherell.
The demand for leadership talent at startup companies remains high despite uncertainty in most industries. As a candidate, partnering with an executive recruiter is a great way to learn about opportunities not readily visible on job posting sites. Selectivity in working with an experienced recruiter and qualifying the opportunities the recruiter presents to you will save you time and potentially, career missteps. To help, we’ve compiled a list of what you should know about the opportunity the recruiter presents to you and questions to ask to ensure the recruiter aligns with your career goals.
1. How long have you been working on this search?
This question helps you determine what stage of the hiring process the company may be in with other candidates and their success to date. If the search has been open for a month or longer and no candidates have been interviewed—or the company has interviewed many candidates without a hire— the probability of you getting hired is lower. When a company interviews many candidates without a hire, it is a sign their team is not aligned on what they are looking for or altogether are not sure what they need. If the search has been long, the recruiter may also be able to tell you what the previous candidates were lacking that was required to successfully land the position.
2. How many other firms are working on the search?
If the recruiter’s search firm has the job exclusively, you have a better chance of your resume being seen by the hiring manager. If there are several search firms with the position—your chances are less—but not impossible. The process will probably go slower because the employer will have more candidates to consider. Be respectful with your recruiter’s time but do follow up for updates to evaluate and determine if the recruiter is doing everything in his/her power to get you noticed. This will help you to prioritize your energies.
3. Have you made placements with the company? If so, what positions?
The purpose of this question is to help you understand the recruiter’s past success and relationship with the client, as well as potential alignment with your objectives. If a recruiter has made multiple placements with the startup organization and has remained with the company, he/she is likely to have a good eye for identifying top candidates—increasing the likelihood that you may be hired. Asking what positions the recruiter sourced, attracted, and placed will again help you determine the likelihood of being hired.
4. How does my background measure up with other candidates you’ve submitted?
This question helps you to understand what aspects of your profile can be utilized as differentiators in the interview process. If the recruiter is prepping you for a client interview—which he/she should be—learn what you should highlight during the interview process. It will also assist you to identify any areas in which you are not as strong as your competitors and may require additional focus.
5. What is the compensation range for the position?
To avoid wasting all parties’ time, ask the recruiter what the salary range for the position is and what is included in the compensation package. Compensation is more than just a salary. Companies differentiate themselves through total rewards and hybrid work arrangements by offering bonuses, flexible work arrangements, stock/equity options, and perks tailored to early employees
6. What is the company’s ownership structure and funding status?
In addition to a quality product and market opportunity, it’s more important than ever to ensure the startup organization has the appropriate runway—the amount of time a company has until it runs out of funding—to survive as a business. If the runway is less than a year, be sure to ask the recruiter about future funding plans. You want to make certain that you are interviewing with a startup that is sustainable and has a strong management team with a well-thought-out business plan.
7. How often do you work on searches that could potentially align with my career goals?
As an experienced professional, you likely have a network that you can leverage to find your next opportunity. By aligning with the right recruiter, you can benefit from his/her relationships with organizations aligned with your interests. It’s important to ask for references and placement success in your industry to ensure the recruiter aligns with your career goals. Convey a consistent picture of who you are, your leadership ability, decision-making style, emotional intelligence, and all the qualities and experiences that make you unique and qualified to work at an early-stage high-growth company.
This blog was written by Viaduct Senior Talent Consultant and Executive Recruiter John Jameson.
Across the United States, record numbers of employees are quitting big finance and tech firms jobs—like Facebook, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs—and joining smaller startup companies, according to data from workforce intelligence firm Revelio Labs. “In a challenging hiring market, startups and more established, traditional companies are competing for the same talent,” Petrella said. If you have a good attitude, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to learn, a startup company could be a good fit for you.
Why are employees attracted to startups?
However, working for a startup is not without risks. 20 percent of new businesses fail within the first year and 45 percent go under within five years according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Are you interested in exploring the startup world?
Check out this article to learn why now is the best time to switch to a startup job. To browse available employment opportunities with startups in the Buffalo area, visit Viaduct’s job board here. You can also view additional startup opportunities at Forge Buffalo’s job board.
The Collision 2022 tech event in Toronto ON welcomed 35,000+ people from 130 countries. This represented 40 percent growth since the conference was last held in 2019 and was the largest global tech event to take place in Canada since the pandemic began. The attendees represented industries impacted by tech who wanted to learn about the latest trends and newest products and tools that can give them an edge over their competitors.
Founders and CEOs of the world’s most successful tech companies including Substack, Ethereum, Blockchain.com, Flexport, Cardano, Tezos, Binance, BlockFi, Chief, Calendly, Clearco, Cloudflare, and more spoke across 20-plus onstage tracks. Among the tech leaders in attendance were authors, athletes, actors, and musicians that discussed how technology has impacted their industry during sessions on a wide range of topics—from technology and digital media to music, politics, and culture. In all, there were more than 900 speakers, 1,200 journalists, 790 investors, and 100 unicorn companies.
People were happy to be back in person and were very open to connecting and sharing their passions. Collision is a great way to connect to foreign businesses interested in having a U.S. presence. The conference energy was electric and could be felt in every conversation. “With indications of a global recession looming, I was enthused to see the energy, excitement, and innovation happening in the startup community,” said Nigel Hapuarachchi, Regional Director, Business Development at Viaduct’s sister company Acara Solutions. “There was a lot of focus on AI/machine learning, environmental responsibility/sustainability, corporate social responsibility, life sciences, and fintech (specifically crypto).”
The number of startups grew by 36 percent from 2019. The 1,557 startups in attendance, included:
Viaduct and TalentRise attended along with partners from the Buffalo startup ecosystem including 43North, Invest Buffalo Niagara, Endeavor, and Tech Buffalo. “It was helpful having a Buffalo contingent in attendance,” said Tom Hausler, Viaduct Director of Recruiting and Business Operations. “We were able to promote the startup community in Buffalo and demonstrate how several organizations work closely together to help emerging businesses.”
Want to know more about Collision or pre-register for 2023? Get more information here.
Startup companies are historically known for being male-dominated. In 2021, just 12 percent of new unicorns (a privately held startup company valued over $1 billion) had at least one female founder—a number that has not changed much in recent years. In tech specifically, women are a minority but their numbers have steadily increased—from 7 percent to 27 percent—over the past fifty years. However, tech still has a ways to go when it comes to gender diversity.
1. Shortage of female tech students
The United States Census Bureau found that men make up 52 percent of all U.S. workers but 73 percent of all science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers. Female students tend to shy away from math and science compared to their male counterparts resulting in a shortage of women in tech roles. It’s estimated that approximately 80 percent of future jobs will require STEM skills but only 27 percent of young women would consider a career in technology and only 3 percent consider it their first career choice.
To assist girls in building STEM skills and helping them feel more comfortable, it’s up to schools—from elementary through high school—to introduce computing and technology courses. Immersion programs such as Girls Who Code and Canada Learning Code offer hands-on experience. Role models, examples of successful women in tech, and demonstrations of how STEM impacts the world can provide girls with the inspiration they need to pursue a career in the field.
2. Less frequently promoted
The number of men and women in tech that stive to be promoted is similar but women hold less than 30 percent of leadership roles in the industry. 39 percent of women in technology roles view gender bias as a primary reason for not being offered a promotion. This is disappointing news for businesses because organizations with women well represented in senior technical roles earn up to 50 percent higher profits.
Promotions of women early in their careers are critical to their future success. Companies that are successful at this are more likely to retain them and in the long run, prepare more women for senior tech roles within their organization. Offer support and mentorship to early-tenure women, opportunities for skill-building, and put policies and processes in place that ensure that all employees have equal opportunities to be promoted and advance within the company.
3. Inequitable corporate culture
48 percent of women in STEM positions report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process. Compared to just 10 percent of men, 57 percent of women working in tech have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. Sadly, by the age of 35, half of the young women who go into tech jobs end up leaving the field.
Early-stage companies have the ability to be intentional about creating a workplace culture centered around inclusion and belonging. Tech leaders need to ensure that all their team members—both male and female—have a voice and can bring their authentic selves to work each day. To appeal to women in tech, organizations must develop career paths and formal and informal learning and development opportunities.
4. Lack of funding for female-led startups
Numerous studies have found that male entrepreneurs can get early-stage capital more easily than women. Female founders secure just 2 percent of venture capital even though companies with at least one female founder perform 63 percent better than those with all-male founders.
The good news is that the pool of female investors is growing. The PitchBook report found that at the end of 2019, 12 percent of general partners at venture capital firms were women and there were 740 female angel investors. At the end of 2021, women comprised 15 percent of general partners at venture capital firms, and there were about 1,000 female angel investors. Organizations like Women Who Tech are breaking down barriers and assisting female tech entrepreneurs to get startup funding.
What can organizations do?
To overcome the challenges faced by women in tech, it’s important to get girls excited about STEM at an early age, provide them with role models and mentors, promote them in the early stages of their careers, and create an inclusive workplace for them to thrive. Startup organizations that can successfully eliminate the biases and challenges faced by women in tech roles will be much more successful at attracting and retaining top female tech talent to grow their business.
The blog was written by Viaduct Senior Account Executive Roger Naglewski.
What are the perks of owning and operating an emerging business?
Getting a fresh start? Absolutely.
Moving to a new city? Always exciting.
Staffing your workplace with cool and talented people? One-hundred percent, yes.
But attracting, recruiting, and hiring new employees—outside of eating up a ton of time and resources—is, well, getting kind of expensive. Or, more accurately, paying them is.
When you compare the job market to the housing market today, it’s easy to see why so many people—whether they’re employers or home buyers—are paying higher prices for the best results. Here’s how.
Let’s take a quick look at the U.S. job market.
U.S. Job Market
Salaries have gone up, but the talent pool has shrunk. This means that employers must expect to pay higher salaries to new hires, and, what’s more, they’ll have fewer high-quality candidates to choose from in the process. Finding the perfect job candidate is hard enough, but once you find them, you’ve got to reel them in with the most lucrative offer.
On the flipside, high-quality job candidates understand their value in the job market. And what do we always tell job seekers, each other, and ourselves when it comes to work? “Know your worth.” Well, savvy job seekers know this better than anyone, and they’re leveraging their skill sets and experience to negotiate the best possible salaries for themselves. Why shouldn’t they?
It’s simple supply and demand, and job seekers are benefitting from a sweet spot in an otherwise dismal landscape.
The problem this poses to employers, of course, is two-fold:
1 – Speed kills.
Employers no longer have the luxury of hemming or hawing during the hiring process. Indecisiveness is simply not an option. If you have the opportunity to hire a high-quality candidate, you’ve got to act as quickly as possible. Yes, doing your due diligence is a must. But the longer you wait, the more likely you are to lose out on that highly coveted job candidate. Assume your candidate has at least one other opportunity, if not a handful of others, so you’ll want to move swiftly yet efficiently.
2 – Money talks.
The almighty dollar rules (for most people and businesses, anyway). And even though there are many factors that could differentiate one employer from another (benefits, culture, location, etc.), what is usually the biggest motivator of all? Money. You should never spend outside of your means, but if you want to play, you’ve got to play, so to speak. Make sure you communicate with your job candidate, be as transparent as possible, and be willing to negotiate—if they’re worth it, that is.
Here’s the point: The last thing you want to do is let “the one” get away. Is saving a few thousand dollars in salary really worth settling for a lesser job performance? No. Like it or not, the answer to 99 out of 100 questions is almost always the same: Money.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you’re trying to buy a home, it does. In 2021, the average price of a home in the U.S. was $392,000, which was up 28.52% from the average price of $305,000 in 2020. So, prices are going up, and guess what—the number of available homes to purchase is going down, too. In fact, there’s never been such a severe shortage of homes in the U.S. Supply and demand strikes again!
You can guess what happens next, right? Potential homebuyers are being forced to pay well over the asking price for a home if they want to seal the deal and make it their own. Consider these fast facts:
(Coincidentally, millennials currently make up 35% of the total U.S. workforce, which makes them the largest working generation.)
Hm. Let’s see. Fierce competition. Limited supply. Skyrocketing costs.
We think you get the point, but let’s hammer home the analogy here:
Okay, now what?
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A C-suite interview has a much different dynamic than a standard mid-level management interview. The stakes are higher because the candidate being interviewed will be a critical leader in the company and this person must share the hiring organization’s goals and vision. A Chief Growth Officer (CGO) should possess the knowledge necessary to drive revenue, reputation, and business growth. Therefore, the interviewer will need to ask the right questions that require the executive candidate to reflect on the past, focus on the present, and envision the future to demonstrate his or her level of competency, skills, strategy, and passion. The interview is also the opportune time to assess leadership skills and communication style. To help find a good fit, we have compiled a list of interview questions targeted specifically to a CGO position.
The Role of CGO
The CGO is responsible for managing an organization’s revenue, market fit, and customer growth. Focusing on external market dynamics, customer needs, and overall buyer behavior, a CGO oversees the marketing, sales, business development, and purchasing departments to foster a customer-centric internal alignment. After monitoring product development activities, the CGO makes sure all marketing activities are driven by a specified value proposition that continues throughout the entire sales process to create a seamless customer experience. A CGO can assist a company cut through the red tape often found between departments and direct drivers to one skilled, innovative professional that is solely focused on overall growth.
1. How does your current company cultivate a workplace culture that’s open to innovation?
To foster organizational growth, a CGO must be able to make bold decisions. This requires a corporate culture open to innovation. Does the executive candidate’s current company foster thinking outside the box? Are employees encouraged to voice less-than-fully formed solutions? You are looking for a leader who’s a conceptual thinker with ideas that are not bound by the typical restraints that often hinder others. Listen for words or phrases like brainstorming, global, vision, cutting edge, and big picture.
2. What strategies do you use to understand your customers and market fit?
To successfully meet your customer’s needs, a CGO must possess the ability to find innovative ways to glean insights into the future to know where your industry is headed to stay ahead of emerging trends. A CGO must keep the customer at the center of all business activities—which requires the ability to listen and understand customer needs and foster trust. Building on this, the CGO must then determine whether the business can meet these needs. If the answer is no, the CGO must adjust strategies accordingly. In an increasingly crowded marketplace, organizations focused on customer experience and satisfaction will emerge as industry leaders. Listen for signs that the CGO candidate is willing to do whatever it takes to deliver products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations.
3. What strategies do you use to drive growth?
Growth doesn’t come from maintaining the status quo. In today’s marketplace, successful growth requires a long-term vision that serves as the foundation of a company-wide strategy. To uncover changing customer attitudes and needs, a CGO must analyze and understand market trends to determine if there’s a need for new product development. Using this information, the CGO must then devise strategies to improve the company’s product or service to create opportunities for growth in the marketplace through customer acquisition—while ensuring long-term retention. Ask the candidate open-ended follow-up questions to get a firm understanding of his or her strategy and philosophy on organizational growth. You want to leave the interview with a clear picture of how the candidate would grow your product or service.
During the interview, it’s important to ask questions that help you access the candidate’s ability to take your organization to the next level. The decisions made by Chief Growth Officer will drive organizational growth through deliberate and strategic efforts. A great CGO knows how to discover, develop, and implement advanced growth initiatives—aimed at driving revenue and business growth—to maintain organizational success.
This blog was written by Viaduct Managing Director Peter Petrella.
Another valuable resource: Adopt These 4 Components of Effective Leadership for a Successful New Year, by our partner TalentRise.