Failed Founders Make Great Hires

marc firestone business

One of the hidden truths of the 21st century economy is that while many people would like to run their own business, being able to sustain that endeavor sometimes takes more than talent and ingenuity.

It is easy to see this when you look at crowdfunding and sites like Kickstarter. You see a project that represents the efforts of a group of founders. Even if they are funded and are successful in putting their unique product out, most companies that get launched using crowdfunding are actually fading away after a couple of years. The primary reason for this is that their ideas excite the established players in the industry. They in turn develop products that compete with the innovators. Their size and scale then makes it difficult for the innovators to maintain their niche market.

The upshot is that there are a lot of talented founders that would make excellent hires at established firms.

Here are some reasons that bringing on a former founder can help your firm:

Experience with market vagaries:

People that have run companies that have faced adversity are typically very adept at manuevering in environments that are unforgiving. They know how to perservere and they can often improve your processes because they have had to innovate in a high gravity environment.

When it comes to navigating markets that are complex, you may find that a failed founder outperforms someone who has not had experience factoring in considerations like the global nature of your product.

A network of friends:

Every founder that runs a business is used to interfacing with people that at the top of the business world in their own markets. They are both comfortable working with people that are executives- and they know how to leverage their connections in order to help whatever company that they work for.

It is a good idea to recognize and embrace new employees’ networks as something that can be a real positive for your company. If you fail to prepare your staff for this, there can be friction because your new hire may end up looking like they are stronger than their co-workers.

A realistic attitude about their role:

When you hire talented individuals, it is sometimes difficult for you to keep them because competitors tend to try and pull them away from you. On the other hand, with the Millennial Generation comprising a large share of the work force, companies are used to working with people that are looking for an opportunity to run their own business at some point in life.

If anything, a seasoned veteran that founded another company may have a very realistic way of looking at the opportunity that you provide them with. Instead of succumbing to the first opportunity that comes along, they may be more willing to work inside your firm to help your company grow.

A need to prove themselves again:

If you are in a competitive market, it is always nice to have corporate warriors around to help you out. Hiring a failed founder can be positive for your company because they may want an opportunity to shine from a performance standpoint. They will therefore do what they can to improve your bottomline in a measurable way.

In many ways, it can be like a football coach that was known for being brilliant until his team had a bad year or two. Most coaches in that situation go back to work for another coach and end up being very strong contributors. Brady Hoke, who used to coach the University of Michigan was recently hired at the University of Oregon as a defensive coordinator because of his talents. Lane Kiffin, the former coach at the University of Southern California was hired at the University of Alabama as an offensive coordinator because of his ability to contribute. He has since helped Alabama return to the National Championship game.

So when it comes to looking at those that have experience working as a company founder in a company that did not survive, it is worth considering how much impact motivated talent can have on your organization. If you make everyone on your team aware of the talents that someone is bringing with them to help, you should be able to leverage their experience and connections to your company’s benefit without inciting the normal jealousies and infighting that sometimes come along with bring a talented person onsite.