I run a start-up in a very "traditional" kind of an industry. The general thinking in my industry & more importantly in the culture I currently am is that you should not hire candidates who are looking to start their own business down the line. I have always felt that these candidates can be great and can take a company forward (especially a SME) while they are with the company as they have the drive & passion to learn a lot. They can also be "hidden gems" as they may have the talent, but because they are upfront about their ambition, they may be ignored by other companies with the traditional mindset.

I would love to know your opinions on whether you would hire a candidate like this in your start-up and what are the pros and cons of it. Also, one of the common things that happens where I am is, when such candidates do leave to set-up their own company, they "may" take confidential info and even contact clients to steal some of them. Does a company really need to take steps to prevent this? would such steps undermine the performance of the candidate thereby not enabling the co. to get the most out of the candidate while he is there?

hashbrown's picture

 I work in a small company which has hired a few entrepreneurs. I'll let you be the judge in terms of pros and cons as it depends a lot on the structure and culture of your company.

My experience in working and managing entrepreneurs are as follows:
1- They will want to do things their own way. Manage them in a way that gives them space to be an individual but still achieve the results.  Don't dictate how it should specifically be done, just make sure the result that is supposed to be achieved is very clear. The last thing they want to feel is like a cog in the machine and they're just supposed to follow an instruction book. They won't feel proud of the work they've done because they haven't added any 'value'. 
2- They are generally more creative so tasks that involves solving problems, creative thinking is more suited for them rather than paperwork.
3- They like to push boundaries. This is a double edged sword so make sure you are both clear on what boundaries are ok to push and what is definitely not ok.
4- They may not be very organised so they may seem to be sloppy with timekeeping and keeping on top of tasks. 
5- Some entrepreneurs lean more towards visionaries rather than implementors. They can think of a lot of great ideas and start on some projects but then get bored and move on to something new and more exciting.
6- They are very passionate people. If you give them a carrot that they really want they will do whatever they can to get it including working unpaid overtime. 
7- They like energy so make sure their environment is busy, buzzing and if possible have new and exciting things developing. 
Some people may have a different experience to myself so this is not a definitive guide by any means. Would be interesting to see what others have to say. 
In terms of stealing contacts and clients, this all depends on your mutual respect for each other. No contract in the world can stop this (remember they like to push boundaries) so just make sure the person you are hiring is ethical.


DRD282's picture
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I agree with HashBrown's response and have one more thing to add in my experience as a small company that's grown to about 30 people in 3 years.  And that is that entrepeneurs want a very clear path for career improvement, and they generally want it quickly. I think it comes from the fact that they are always asking "what next?" It's great in some situations, especially if you can get a good one onboard very early in your company. But, if you have a relatively flat organization and an existing management structure, then they will be very dissatisfied unless there is a definite place for them in that structure. People think "entrepeneurs are great for small companies because they get things done." But having too many can definitely give you a "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation. You can't have an entire company of people who, as Hashbrown put it, want to do things their own way.

parkerbljr's picture
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Sounds like you re describing the quintessential high I.