Do You View a Candidate’s Entrepreneurial Experience as a Plus or a Minus?
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Today’s Question: When you’re looking to make a new hire, how do you view candidates with entrepreneurial experience? Does it give them an edge over the competition, or does it hinder them in your eyes?
1. I Value It
I value the entrepreneurial spirit because it tells me the candidate is not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are not afraid to pick up the phone and cold call, they understand P&L, accounting, sales, marketing, and customer service. A good entrepreneur has communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to adapt to new circumstances. They know how to lead teams and are goal-oriented.
One might argue that is is risky to hire an entrepreneur as they may go off to do their own thing, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. As a business owner, I like to create environments where my colleagues can grow. I like to put them in a position where they are handling their territory just like they would their own business. I hire passionate people, and I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who lacks passion.
— Anthony Davani, Kreoo
2. It All Depends
It completely depends on the role for which I’m hiring. If I’m building a startup or am in growth mode, hiring someone with an entrepreneurial background makes a lot of sense, especially if there is a short-term need that they can knock out of the park. In this case, a long-term fit is a bonus.
On the other hand, if I’m looking for a stable, long-term employee, I’m naturally a bit wary of entrepreneurs. In my experience, they are hard to hold onto, which brings a bit of insecurity for employers.
— Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard
3. It Builds Character
I don’t necessarily find it negative when a candidate has entrepreneurial experience. That experience tells me that this person once took a bet on themselves. Being an entrepreneur sounds sexy, but that’s only when you hear the success stories. You don’t see the long nights, the doubts, or the endless and overwhelming hurdles. That experience is what helps build character, and I view it as a positive. I’m a firm believer that having an entrepreneurial spirit plays a big factor in helping someone to excel in their career.
— Gaurav Valani, June
4. It Can Be a Great Thing, But It Has Its Drawbacks
I’ve hired several entrepreneurs at Amplify Relations, and they are undeniably their own breed of employee. I always ask whether the candidate is open to a new way of doing business. These entrepreneurs tend to be innovative thinkers; they are cowboys used to shooting from the hip. They travel to the beat of their own drums. These are great qualities to find in candidates when you’re seeking a skill set for the creative industry as I am, but those qualities also come with downsides. Entrepreneurs struggle with supervisor direction and, in our experience, tend not to stick around.
— Bryan Bedera, Amplify Relations
5. It’s a Definite Plus
Having just hired three people this past week, I noticed very clearly through the hundreds of resumes and applicants we received that any time there was clear entrepreneurial experience, I was more inclined to consider the person. To me, it shows that this person has the dedication and effort needed to try to make it on their own, which is an unbelievably demanding thing to attempt. They also are likely to be well-versed in many areas of a business – e.g., sales, marketing, clients, operations, etc. I like the idea of someone that well rounded. Each of the three people I ended up hiring has this kind of background.
— Justin Beegel, Infographic World
6. It’s Great When the Fit Is Right
Entrepreneurship is a passion and a personality type more than a job skill. A lot of times, heavy entrepreneurial experience can indicate that a candidate’s head and heart aren’t suited for being an employee. However, being involved with starting a business teaches you more than just about any other job, so there are very key advantages.
I look at startup experience or jobs that take a lot of initiative as signs that someone is motivated and not afraid of challenges. Very early entrepreneurial experience can also demonstrate initiative and teach invaluable lessons. Speaking for myself, I learned so much running a painting company during college that I wrote an article for Entpreneur.com entitled “The Big Lessons I Learned from my First Entrepreneurial Job.”
When evaluating a candidate for a position with your company, know that entrepreneurship likely means something deep about the person; make sure those passions and unique skills will be needed and valued in the position for which you are hiring.
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