Startup Community: ‘Hire slow, fire fast’ – why you need this startup mantra

No shame in being a poor fit (photo: Pixabay)
February 19th, 2022 5:00 pm| by Thomas Nymark Horsted
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The nature of startups often drives many leaders to be quick to hire (“we need someone now!”), but slow to fire.

They say they are busy, lack resources and would rather avoid awkward conversations. But this needs to be reversed: here is why ‘hire slow, fire fast’ is a better strategy. 

Dream team every time
Product, market and timing are important factors that can make or break a startup, but none can compete with the makeup of your team. 

When you’re building a company, you need amazing people (that are smarter than you). You need a team to research the market, build the product, acquire and retain customers, analyse data, assess the product/market fit, and help build a company culture. 

So, while the other factors are important, you don’t really need the best product or the biggest market to become successful, while the timing can be out of your control. 

But you need an amazing team. 

A tough challenge
Building a startup team is tough. Tech startups, especially, often find hyper-growth out of nowhere or find themselves needing to hire a lot of people after a funding round. Furthermore, they face a  battle for talent as everyone is looking for the ‘rockstar developer’ or ‘growth ninja’.

Unfortunately, many startups end up hiring too fast. They might hire the most skilled person, who doesn’t fit the culture of the company. Or maybe they compromise on the skills set and end up with somebody not up to the job. 

By all means, you should be quick at nailing the position need, role and persona you are looking for and get that job ad posted. But from there, take your time. 

Get to know your candidates and what motivates them, understand how they think and work, find out what accommodations they need to thrive, and how they can contribute to the company culture. No rush. No fear. And be selective!

More compassionate
If you don’t get it right though, it’s better to let them go fast. While ‘fire fast’ might seem insensitive, I would argue it’s more compassionate than the alternatives. 

It isn’t compassionate to keep one person on but let the rest of the team struggle. We need teams in which everyone can trust each other and hold each other accountable to do a great job. Forcing someone to be something they are not, or keeping them in the wrong role, is neither compassionate nor sustainable. It’s better to let them go. 

That is why building a team shouldn’t be over-rushed out of fear of growing quickly enough. Hiring fast might help you in the short run, but it will hurt you in the long run.

Thomas Nymark Horsted


Thomas (@thomas_hors) is the former co-founder of Startup Guide and a former startup scout for IKEA Bootcamp. He is currently the CCO for Tiimo, a Danish tech startup that has developed the world’s first inclusive planning app, designed with neurodivergent people in mind. Awarded ‘One to Watch’ globally by Apple, Tiimo aims to help people live better lives, one small task at a time.

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