As a Founder or Senior Executive in a startup, you are aware of the immense challenges faced in hiring the right employees and getting the utmost value out of them. Therefore, every hiring must be optimized and the employees you hire should be able to deliver optimal value.
One of the many ways of optimizing your employees, is to hire those with the broadest skill set so that they could contribute to your business now and in the future
While there are several necessities towards hiring in a startup (technical, functional, subject matter expert etc.), I want to focus on MBA qualified professionals (graduates to senior management) and highlight how they could contribute towards your success. Of course, I am talking about MBAs who have the necessary experience, skills, attitude and traits needed by your startup.
Here are some aspects that make MBAs good startup employees.
#1. Contribute to make your business become Structured
Startups ooze with creativity, energy, ambition, ideas and innovation. But, they tend to be weak in structure and structured thinking that facilitate and sustain such precious aspects. Balance is a crucial thing and without it startups descend into chaos, inefficiency and ad hoc practices which hurt their core competitive advantage. Many activities need repetition and hence structure brings order, clarity and efficiency.
Approaching things in a methodical, logical and analytical way will help your startup avoid the blind spots. You want to put carefully selected systems, processes, frameworks, models and concepts that have been tried and tested for success. Having employees who can think and act structurally will be complementary to the creative and innovative thinking of founders.
#2. Help to stay on top of Complexity
In a startup world, things get complex and fast paced as growth happens. Unless managed well, things can get out of control and impact the business. Understanding the complexity of problems and their inter-connection to the various aspects of the business is crucial. Complexity brings in many unknowns, interrelated factors and interdependent attributes that cannot be simplified. Hence, you want employees who are able to map the complexity end-to-end, understand and then propose solutions that solve the complete chain – not a part of it. This is an area where MBAs could be immensely helpful.
To give an example, How to increase your price by 5% without affecting customer growth & not compromising on your net profit & not spooking competitors and rolling it out to new and existing markets at the same time? There are several thousands of such scenarios that need to be addressed on a daily basis
#3. Bring you Cross-Functional Integration & Understanding
At startups you are a close-knit and collaborative community and might not have the luxury of different departments and teams. Most of your employees need to deliver above and beyond their functional/technical expertise and work on complex scenrios even if they have no understanding of them. MBAs come with good cross-functional knowledge and exposure. They understand how all the functions and their interdependence come together for collective business success.
Take for example your product. May be, it is the product design/engineering team who is shaping the product without a complete end-to-end coordination and understanding. Won’t it benefit you more if they will take into consideration the combined inputs from marketing, sales, finance, distributors, supply chain, retail and customers?
MBAs come with good cross-functional knowledge and exposure. They understand how all the functions and their interdependence come together for collective business success.
They are aware of (if not an expert) what comprises marketing, sales, accounting, finance, strategy, operations, supply chain, HR, general management etc. As a result of this, they are able to understand and resolve cross-functional issues much more effectively. They can cross the functional silos and operate efficiently across different functions. You need employees who can connect all the dots for effective decision making. Eg: An employee who can understand and work out financial planning, auditing,
You need employees who can connect all the dots for effective decision making. An employee who can understand and work out financial planning, auditing, analysing, business models, business intelligence, product marketing, strategy, sales, branding etc. Wouldn’t that make your organization more smooth and seamless?
#4. Can Be Deployed to Various Roles
When it comes to deployment of talent, MBAs are the most flexible and can hit the ground running. I prefer to call them as “the talent Swiss-Knife”. What makes them so resourceful and versatile? It lies in the fact that they can wear several hats at the same time or handle several roles within the company.
This helps you to avoid recruiting several employees or external consultants.
Whether adding a few extra projects / one-off activities / fixed-term projects / evolving roles / cross-functional assignments, MBAs are well placed to contribute. On top of their roles, you could also benefit from their ability to consult, present, pitch, research, analyse, negotiate, strategize, benchmark etc.
Most of the rapidly growing startups have utilized this strategy to reduce costs and increase capabilities.
#5. Can Deliver Quick & Effective Information for Decision Making
Startups need to make important decisions on a daily basis. Each decision can either propel them forward or hold them back. Often, decisions are taken under pressure with limited/unknown information with a gut wrenching feeling of what it might bring forth. Where MBAs stand out on this front – is to gather, analyze and present complex issues in a quick, clear and concise manner.
Though it is impossible to have all the data and details before you take important decisions, you want to base it on facts and a clear analysis. MBAs have the ability to analyze, understand, interpret and formulate solutions for decision makers. Again all these across functions and context mentioned in the points above.
#6. Save you Time and Money
In a startup, there is always a need for employees/expertise at any given point. Some for a short-term and some for a specific activity. Whenever you have to hire an external consultant / a consulting firm / subject matter expert, it does cost a lot of time and money.
Also, the process of getting these time-limited tasks are time consuming. Imagine you need to meet several potential people/companies, shortlist them, explain the issue and then wait for their involvement to solve. There is also the risk of external partners not delivering what is expected of them.Big companies can afford to absorb such setbacks. But, as a startup, it might have a serious impact.
However, if you have internal employees who can do that for you, you save both money and time. By strategically planning, hiring and deploying MBAs you can save both time and money.
#7. Love to work in Startups
You love your startup and you want your employees to have the same commitment, enthusiasm and passion. While many feel sceptical about joining a startup, MBAs find it as a big draw. Startups are the perfect place to implement the learning’s of an MBA and provide fantastic space for growth and career opportunities. With almost all business schools teaching entrepreneurship (since 2005) and having startup consulting projects, they have a good first-hand experience.
Today, MBA professionals can be found within almost all industries, functions and experience levels. Also, they come with a wide academic/professional experience such as engineering, technical, medical, science, arts, IT etc. Hence, as a startup Founder, you have a higher chance of recruiting an MBA with all the knowledge, skills and experience for your business – no matter what niche you are in.
The question is, not “if MBAs are beneficial to your startup” but “If you are hiring the right MBA professional” for your startup?
So, next time you need to hire for your startup, consider these merits. The advantages of hiring an MBA qualified employee can be leveraged by all startups and not necessarily only by those in tech startups.
When hiring for your startup thinking strategically and resourcefully. Your startup needs the very best talent. Hiring an MBA for your startup for appropriate roles will give you a definite competitive advantage.