May 19, 2013

Should Indian startups aim for "passionate" employees?

Mukund Mohan of Microsoft Accelerator has a
post suggesting that entrepreneurs set their expectation realistically on this front.
The question I get asked by entrepreneurs a lot is what persona type should I hire? I see most entrepreneurs looking to hire that elusive work-work persona. There are so many Indian entrepreneurs, who claim to have a culture that attracts the work-work persona, and those folks that are passionate employees. I hate to tell them they are being fooled and really if I talked to their employees, they’d tell me they’d rather start their own company, but dont have the risk profile to do so. Here’s the real truth. The work-work folks will not be working for you in India. They would rather be entrepreneurs themselves, since they live their work. So the best you can do as an entrepreneurs is to hire a work-hobby or work-life persona. I’d highly recommend you dont get frustrated if they dont give you a 100%, because really their mind is elsewhere. As long as they give you what they commit to, be happy, move on.

To the comments, I had added the following:

While high-growth oriented startups might argue the point, I think this is highly relevant for non-tech/SME/life style" entrepreneurs. As someone who runs a relatively small shop, I would definitely recommend the "work-hobby" variety.

 1) At least, they are passionate about something.

 2) Especially if they are quite good at their "hobby" (which just doesn't pay the bills), they tend to have better work culture (i.e., they have less time for gossip, office politics, Facebook, etc); have relatively higher IQ and EQ; and tend to stick around longer (especially if the employer is flexible vis-a-vis their "hobby").  

Caveat: If the employee has more than one hobby/passion to keep up with,  1 & 2 don't apply!

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.