Why You Should Never Hire An Ex-Startup Person

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This article will talk about a significant change that has already started in how Fortune 500 and Corporations hire people. What used to be a sacred cow is now quite common. What is it? It’s quite simple. It’s the Startup Generation vs. Traditional Corporate Workers. Ex-Startup people will and are competing for corporate jobs every day. I know, I was one of them.

Millions of millennials set out to create a startup or consulting firm as their first job after college, or forget college altogether. I remember the Yahoo Finance Article around 2004 that said skip college and grad school and just create a startup. Back then I argued that was dumb advice. Some have proved me wrong. But even the people who did not prove me wrong and tried, tried, tried and failed at a startup are by far better off for their experience. Trust me. What they experienced and went through was a ring of fire and they learned stuff that no corporate job could teach you. And as this Startup Generation continues to jump into $16,000 12-week code schools to learn Python and R, we will have more and more of what I call the “Startup Generation” eventually applying for real jobs. It is actually a career path! And one that makes total sense.

First off, my headline that you should never hire a startup person is just a ruse. I actually believe the opposite is true! That could have been a title of my first blog back in 2006 in my first WordPress site. I kind of believed it back then. When web developer candidates came through the door for job interviews at NTT/Verio, where I was the web manager I would toss them in the trash if it said they spent 1 year on Payment Startup this and 2 years on Community Startup that went nowhere as their first job. I was not so forgiving then. We just felt that the best candidate had 4 years minimum at a solid, at least south florida Fortune 500 company, like an Office Depot, Ivax, Sportsline, Tiger Direct or abc distributing, inc.

We had cloudy lenses back in pre-2011 days. But so did the entire working world. I know, I was one of them. We use the year 2011, because that to me is about the year that startup experience started to become real and translatable directly to corporate experience. It became real because of several major factors. The biggest factor was the introduction of cloud-based do everything solutions at a low cost. When the first series of successful Saas, cloud-based solutions, started to take off like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and other widely used third party web products, all bets were off. So, suddenly corporate america took notice and many of them adopted these tools. I forced NTT/Verio to use WordPress for instance and kill all their cold fusion, perl and PHP CMS apps they hand written in-house in addition to ending third party CMS tools.

The stigma that a startup person will get up and leave because corporate life was too boring and restrictive has ended. Yes, that may happen. But today many employees are let go long before they decide to leave, so that is no longer an issue. The ex-startup person knows the deal and quite often can figure out how to get things done now, not later. They may cringe at all the red tape and paperwork involved with corporate life, but quite honestly not sure if anybody reading this has ever created an IOS app, where you have to get a Dunn & Bradstreet Number in order to create an Apple account or fight with Amazon in creating ASIN numbers. It is worse than government work. Startup work is long, difficult and can be boring as well. In fact, startup people are used to it.

But let’s get down to why a startup person can be so valuable to a large corporation, especially a fast growing organization. It has to do with broad skills vs. narrow skills. I ended up working as a contractor at Office Depot in 2016 in a very narrow scope position working with Teradata, Coremetrics, Google Analytics and presentation skills, because I presented to the marketing team.

Now, because I had come right out of a startup right before I arrived at Office Depot as a product manager and consultant and had been a CTO for another startup that year, both of which I was partner in the startup, what Office Depot did not know or care to understand, is I had broad skills and not just narrow skills. While it may sound great to have this employee show up who has a narrow set of skills, and just what the corporate doctor ordered, it really made no sense at all. Many of my coworkers did not understand the business mission and did not contribute their brains to forwarding the company into new business, They understood little, but what was in front of them. Yet they had all had ideas, great, amazing ideas, and important ideas for the biz, with all their brains and know-how. You know, the best people to see new, great ideas and drive things are the people in the trenches running the engine. Not very smart to ignore the brainpower in the building!

I spent my 6 months hammering away making the best reports for the marketing execs I could at OD. When I noticed major opportunities and met with a Senior Executive VP there and gave him a presentation on what they really should be doing as a company (they needed to move co-working spaces into the Office Depot/Office Max locations along with smart-phone fix it services, coffee, good lighting, free wifi and couches and migrate into real-estate as a leaser), he just shrugged his shoulders and basically told me these were fabulous ideas, but obviously they were not going to happen. He kind of resigned himself to the failure that was oncoming, but quite frankly an $18 billion dollar year kind of failure. Want to go over that plan again, just call me anytime friend! :)

Startup and small business workers who enter a corporation know more than just one system or one method. They know how to do guerrilla marketing. They know how to boot-strap and figure things out that narrow scope workers can only dream of thinking through. And the best time to work with a startup worker is as they enter the corporate world again. The two are not mutually exclusive anymore, and the key to rapid growth in corporate america is adopting a startup mentality.

So next time you are hiring a person and they just left a small business or startup think twice about their background!

As you can see I don’t have anything to plug today. My startup networking events are on hold at least till the fall. I am working as a Digital Marketing Director for Sancilio & Company based in Riviera Beach. We are in the middle of migrating the website OceanBlueProfessional.com to a new domain name, look and feel and functionality called OceanBlueOmega.com (almost there, but not yet) in the next 3 weeks. And their products are the best in the business when it comes to Omega-3s. They are highly condensed (1 pill instead of 3), no burp, no fishy taste and manufactured in the USA in Riviera Beach, Florida. The doctor in charges says you need to be taking 2100 milligrams a day. My discount code is SCI5467 for 20% off! Most of the work I am doing really does feel like a startup at this point. Please check back with our company in mid-august and good luck out there.

Please follow me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielgudema/
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