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Sourcing and Hiring the Perfect Impact Team

Written by Capria Admin
December 30, 2014

istar-classroom-300x3005 Tips on Building an Impact Team – from iSTAR and Smile Merchants

Scaling a business is tough. While plans for expansion can seem foolproof on paper, it is necessary to find a mission-driven team that can translate them into reality. Many impact businesses have found this to be a challenge: Lowered salaries and a career in unstable, untapped markets can be a deterrent that stops capable employees from entering their workforce. How can an impact entrepreneur develop and establish a sustainable, efficient team?

Talent, Training or Experience First?

Every burgeoning entrepreneur with a disruptive dream believes that the ideal team is composed of talented, experienced individuals. Unfortunately, most of these entrepreneurs are also limited by their own budgets. Surga Thilakan, CEO and co-founder of iSTAR, explains that the initial step in building a sustainable workforce is to gauge the balance between experience and talent that your team requires. iSTAR provides skilling services for undergraduate students in mid- and lower-tier colleges. “In the past, we’ve hired top-of-the-line, experienced trainers, and have had to pay them more,” Surga explains. “We’ve discovered that this hasn’t made much of a difference. We work in a new industry and there isn’t much experience that anyone can bring from another sector. We are now focusing mid-level trainers and investing a bit of time in training them. In terms of cost effectiveness, this has really paid off.” The time investment of training an individual increases their commitment towards the unified goal of the team and helps create a specialized workforce. Lowered salaries are compensated by increased connections with communal goals.

Sourcing the Right Staff

Dr. Rushi Trivedi, CEO of Smile Merchants, believes that the tradeoff between lowered salaries and a packaged, sold dream is necessary for impact entrepreneurs: “An entrepreneur’s job is to sell dreams. If you don’t sell dreams, you aren’t successful. First I had to sell my dreams 2014 Smile Merchantsto my parents, then to my co-founders, then to my in-laws, then to my investors for their money, and then to my employees. It is important to sell dreams to our employees.” Smile Merchants provides low-cost, high quality dental care in metro areas in India.

Rushi is an unconventional combination of doctor and entrepreneur. Disillusioned by the dismal scene of dentistry in the non-metro areas of India, Dr. Trivedi decided to try his hand at disruptive entrepreneurship. He uses the infectious qualities of this dream in order to further his vision to change the face of dentistry in India. Although he searches for individuals that may follow a similar trajectory to his own life, he explains that those who join his team must have a passion for expansion and impact: “My favorite interview question to ask is what the goal of their life is. What’s your vision? If someone says that they don’t have a vision, and that they just want to settle down, I usually feel very skeptical about them. I don’t think that they’re very passionate and I don’t think that he will be good for Smile Merchants. If there is a doctor who says, maybe he wants to have a clinic with 5 chairs, I know that this is someone who’s excited about doing some form of business with dentistry.”

5 Tips on Creating the Perfect Team for an Impact Business

  • Sell your dreams in an accessible manner. Your recruits should understand what drives you and feel excited about joining in on the shared goal.
  • Analyze your team: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Establish an understanding of where you can afford to cut corners in terms of your employee budget… and where you can’t.
  • Be prepared to change your opinion in order to adapt to market realities. Looking for a highly experienced professional? That may not be the best fit if you can train someone more available and more affordable.
  • Don’t rely on overly-specialized staff when scaling. Make sure to hire and train and cross-train—nobody should be able to leave your business high and dry.
  • Look for passion and long term goals. Working in impact is hard—the perseverance needed to solve a constant stream of challenges means that everyone on your team should feel ownership for the outcomes. Don’t settle on passion alone.

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