Lesson 1 from a bootstrapped journey

3 things I did right: Lesson 1 from a bootstrapped journey of 0 to 8 digit revenue

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 1:56 pm by     

As we closed an amazing year, handling 11.3 million calls, helping customers retain 2.42 million potential leads and getting 10,578 companies to try our product, I would like to submit this:

As an entrepreneur I play joker. I try – I fall – I stand up again for the next stunt. Whatsoever, I have to keep everyone entertained.

This article is a part of a 3-article series, where I would share 3 most vital lessons as I grew as an entrepreneur, our product grew as an offering and our team grew into a force.

Lesson 1: Don’t hire. Build a team.

“Team is the first product any founder should build”. It matters more than the idea itself. A right team will set the right direction even for a not-so-great idea over the course of time. Remember what we learned from Chak De! India. A team does not primarily mean best of skills put together, but an optimal set of people who can perform together to the best of their capabilities. So if your team cannot spend a good time with some person, never bring the person in your team.

1. Build it before you need

Most of my interactions with fellow entrepreneurs end up discussing team building challenges; and this is evident for startups at all stages. That’s mostly because finding great skills with the right attitude gets more difficult when we are not a brand and cannot match the salary.

We at VoiceTree saw this is as major road block from the very early days and thus our hiring never stopped. When you introduce new people to the team, there is a learning period and early attrition. So we were  looking for great people and hiring them irrespective of our immediate requirement. This desire of building a team made us hire an HR manager (recruiter) at a very initial stage and that worked pretty well for us. This brings me to the next point.

2. Get a full time recruiter

Initial months with VoiceTree were extremely difficult as we had little money to hire talent and little experience to run a business.  I was seeking advice from many experienced people and hiring an HR manager was not recommended by most of them. Moreover it was an additional investment that I could have made on someone immediately required. But things changed for good soon and it paid off well.

An HR manager who works on full time hiring can connect to 10X more people and chances of finding better talent at budgeted salary is 3X more. This explains the ROI with respect to any startup. It’s not about how many people you need but about your chances of finding a better fit. An HR manager can ensure a tougher and relevant hiring process to assure quality hiring. Moreover it helps building the culture of the company as an HR manager can take care of day to day management of the team and issue resolutions. It also helps keep sanity by keeping founders away from HR issues.

3. Experiment, even in hiring

Presence of a dedicated HR manager also gave us space to experiment and innovate in our hiring process. Last year we were able to engage 1700+ fresher candidates on our open training portal and hire 20 best sales executives. This training portal was built on our business call recordings on MyOperator, highlighting the application of our own product for training purposes.

Even for hiring experienced candidates we asked them to take that short training from the portal before coming for an Interview. This made the interview more relevant and also filtered out non-serious candidates.

You must experiment in every process of your business; most will fail; but those few that work will define your success.

 

This blog by Ankit Jain, Founder, VoiceTree Technologies, was first published on Product Nation Blog.