http://paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html (N. 6)
Every piece of startup advice I’ve read has said the same thing: don’t compromise on hiring. Only hire the best of the best. Hire people who are smart, get stuff done and are a good cultural fit. If you’re unsure about someone, pass. Etc… The more time I spend in the working world, the more I think this is true. Most of the articles I’ve seen fail to explain why hiring sub-par people is so bad. After all, they do the job and that’s enough, right? Here’s why:
- Your employees recruit your future employees. Mediocre employees multiply over time.
- Your employees determine your culture. Mediocre people make your culture worse. This is a global negative modifier to everyone in your firm.
- Your employees, eventually and after enough promotions, determine your strategy. Mediocre people lead to bad strategy. Bad strategy sinks your business
- People like to work with people like them. Have lots of mediocre employees and you’ll drive away smart people. Even worse, they’ll attract other mediocre people (see point 1)
Your employees decide who to promote. Bad people promote bad people.
context warning: this advice may well be highly specific to a certain economic niche/industry/knowledge workers. The further your business is from a high tech, knowledge intense startup, the less this advice, and my experience in general, is reliable.