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Start-Ups

How to Attract Experienced Managers to Your Startup

By Townes Haas   |    August 13, 2014   |    11:56 AM

The Importance of Seasoned Professionals in the Early Startup Phases


Attracting the right people to work for a company is important for any business. For startups, it can be a make-or-break necessity. While young professionals willing to work day and night are attractive prospects, startups also need seasoned veterans who understand business strategy, planning and hiring.

Entrepreneur recommends signing up veterans who have years of startup experience. These professionals can “add tremendous value in hiring, training, setting realistic expectations, dealing with similarly experienced people (like investors) and unlocking a much deeper network of potential customers and mentors”.

The first step, however, is even getting these seasoned managers interested in the company.

What to Look for in a Manager

If the startup’s goal is to try and bring these types of managers on board, then the entrepreneur needs to think what type of manager is needed. For example, a veteran that’s only worked for large corporations might not be a good fit. Executives that have spent their career working for Fortune 500 companies might not have the skills required to work for a smaller company. Oftentimes, the rigid processes and timelines of corporate working life don’t translate to quick-moving startups.

Someone who has small business or startup experience would be a better fit. Look for a candidate that is flexible, especially when it comes to compensation and working hours. Some candidates may be willing to work for a combination of a good salary and other benefits like equity, flex time or additional vacation weeks.

Tips on Attracting Veteran Managers

Once a founder determines the manager requirements, it’s time to start the search for a seasoned professional to sign on with the startup. Most startups don’t have the capital to pay managers the “big bucks” that they usually require. Instead, a startup can offer different incentives that can encourage veterans to consider working for it.

  • Attract capital: Seasoned professionals want to know that the company isn’t going away tomorrow. One way to do that is to show that the business has been able to attract investors to fund it. Professionals want to verify that the risk isn’t too high for their career.
  • Play up the work culture: Startups have the ability to provide incentives that larger organizations cannot, including flextime, working from home, and a fun work culture. One reason that many veterans leave corporate America is that it’s too restrictive, or it’s a detriment to a work-life balance. Startups can afford a bit more flexibility.
  • Offer Alternative Schedules: Some professionals simply want to take it a bit easier, but still make money. As opposed to hiring a full-time manager, offer part-time work. This could be especially attractive to a business professional who has their own side business. Then, fill in the rest of the time with younger, hungrier employees.
  • Offer Equity or Even Partial Ownership: Incentives are going to be important to a veteran. One of the best incentives a startup can offer is a percentage of equity or earnings, or even partial ownership. This shows that the startup wants the professional to be invested in the business and that the startup values the partnership.

The right mix of seasoned professionals and young employees can help startups quickly scale and grow their business. Both types are needed to be successful.

Do you have experience working with managers in a startup setting? Tell us about it in the comments!