A few months back, I had the chance to sit down with Steve Blank (@sgblank) on the Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere radio show. Opportunities like these are always inspiring. For one thing, I am able to discuss our very own innovation lab and the amazing accomplishments it has seen in the last two years. My favorite part, however, is informing others that the Talent Acquisition tech space is dynamic and much deeper than most people realize.
While I enjoy boasting about the accomplishments of Talent Tech Labs and the advancement, expansion, and trends of Talent Acquisition, the real takeaway from my dialog with Mr. Blank is how difficult seeking entrepreneurial pursuits can be. This challenge is magnified in such a specialized sector. I can’t say I have all the answers, but I can explain what it is we use to evaluate the possibility of success in entrepreneurs and startups..@sgblank and @JKestenbaum dig deep into the dynamics of TA tech on @SIRIUSXM Click To Tweet
The following criteria should be taken as advice, not as a deterrent. The entrepreneurial world is challenging, but it isn’t impossible. If you have the passion and drive, the rest can be learned. That leaves me to assess:
I’m not talking about dedication simply as a desire for success. I want to know that your energy, both mental and physical, is focused on your company. I want to know that this startup is the team’s job. Sometimes it’s necessary to see income from other lines of work, but in most cases, those places serve as distractions. When it’s your startup, it’s your livelihood and there is very little that can pull you away from establishing and reaching goals. A team with this dedication doesn’t just want success, they can see it and will make it happen.
I want an entrepreneur or startup team who has worked on or launched a business or technology. What I hope to see is a demonstration in how the team or individual handles failure or challenge. Does the team or leader stand right back up and kick off the dirt? Is there a sense of urgency when something in the process is amiss? Are they repeating what isn’t working or growing to meet the obstacle head on? The best thing about my definition of good experience is that you don’t even need to have all the answers. A great entrepreneur isn’t one who knows everything, but is instead resourceful enough to know when and where to seek advice.
Download Mercer’s latest Taxonomy of Talent Acquisition Technology featuring Talent Tech Labs:
I’m talking about more than face-value listening skills. I want to know the entrepreneur or founder I’m working with will hear my advice and the advice of their mentors as we help incubate them. But most importantly, I want to work with people who can listen to their market. There’s a lot of sources of noise in entrepreneurship: friends, family, mentors, business partners…the list goes on. Someone meant for success, however, can process all of this input and delineate which information is to furthering their business. Almost always, the market indicates the needed strategic direction. If you project the market demands a specific idea, but get little to no traction, there’s a miscommunication.
As an entrepreneur, you need to understand that sometimes the market isn’t ready for your disruption. In that case, you have to explain why the need is there. When you’re intimately aware of the market, trends of the industry and the pain points of users, you can pivot your strategy and adjust your approach. Knowing the intricacies of the market is a survival tactic for startups.
In addition to understanding the market, startups and entrepreneurs must truly know themselves. There are very few ideas so abstract that you don’t have a competitor in at least one way or another, so if you cannot name your competitor, then you haven’t looked at your product with a critical eye, nor have you studied the market. I need a team who can understand the Talent Acquisition Technology Ecosystem enough to identify who they will be held up against.The four foundations of what it means to be a successful #entrepreneur Click To Tweet
While it might seem like “marketplace competition 101”, many entrepreneurs come to us believing they lack competitors. More often than not, they’re wrong—and missing an opportunity to learn from their industry landscape. Competition is not a hint at weakness. In fact, when used intelligently, competitive intel can steer you to a better position than you would have been being first to market. Do your homework and be honest. Your business will only benefit from the added diligence.
As crazy as it sounds, a good idea isn’t the first thing I look for when choosing a company to incubate. Sexy ideas and a gorgeous UI doesn’t necessarily equate to a successful business venture. If you want to learn more about opportunities at Talent Tech Labs, listen to my interview with Steve Blank or check out the services page to see the process.