The milestones you’ve set for your company aren’t going to meet themselves.

The quality of people in your business, managing processes, and executing tasks will determine how fast you’ll hit them. Running a startup is like racing in Formula One, your success is significantly dependent on the team you’ve got.

That’s why you need to have a rockstar team powering your startup from day one.

Ideally, a rockstar team consists of ambitious, skilled and proactive people who are willing to work long hours for cheap. They regularly demonstrate exceptional ability and achievement over a range of activities. They are competent and can deal with complexity.

But hiring based on skillsets is not enough.

You also want people who jibe with your company culture. You do have a company culture, right?

Running a startup is like racing in Formula One, your success is significantly dependent on the team you’ve got.

Both are equally important, and hiring someone who doesn’t meet both categories will hurt your business. If you don’t, morale will dwindle, tensions will rise, you’ll get distracted with managing conflicts, and growth will pause.

The quality of talent in your startup is so important that investors will usually ask about your team when you approach them. So, no, it’s not something to scrimp on.

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As a startup, you may not have the luxury of using a recruitment agency. You’ll have to do the first few hires yourself. So, here are the things you need to know to identify and attract rockstar talent to your startup:

1. Use free job listing boards

First, you want to exhaust all the free job boards out there. There are quite a few of them HotNigerianJobs and NGCareers (Nigeria), Job2Recruit, JobMail SA (South Africa), KenyaMOJA, JobMail Kenya (Kenya). But they may probably pull in a humongous number of applicants. If you’re going with this option, you should direct applicants to an application form on your website, so that you can streamline applications.

If that sounds a bit stressful, you could try the premium job boards such as Jobberman, Career Junction, Brighter Monday Kenya and PushCV. For a fee, they will handle the screening of applicants. PushCV also enables you to create a company profile, which lets candidates know what your business is about before applying.

Finally, if you’re looking for someone with computer skills, like programming and design, you could check out TechCabal Radar. That’s a popular hangout for them. Although Radar is predominantly Nigeria, it’s starting to attract a Pan-African audience.

Note that this isn’t to seal the deal. Rather, it’s just to get the word out and attract skilled people to your company. When they apply, that’s when the real work begins.

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2. Use your Social Network

Mark Essien, the CEO of, uses his social network to draw in applicants for job openings at his company. And he’s been successful so far. Posting job openings on your social network and asking for retweets/shares will spread the word around quite quickly. This will be 10x more efficient if you’re already in the right circles online.

Since it’s social media, you could also make it fun. Like a quiz or an IQ/personality test which adds to its shareability.

3. Attend networking events

If you’re looking for skilled people who are interested in working at startups, it makes sense to go to where they are. You can find them at networking events and conferences and startup conversations.

4. Be clear about what you want

When you’ve got applications pouring in from all over, how do you decide who the best hire is?

Before screening candidates, though, you want to meet with the hiring team, to define what you’re looking for in a hire. Here are a few questions to ask at this crucial meeting:

1. What are the core skills and competencies you are looking for?

2. What defines success for this new hire in the following 6-12 months after employment?

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The answers to these questions will determine what you look out for when you start screening potential hires.

These are some testing tools that will help you to narrow down the candidate pool. It’s advisable to pass candidates through as many of these tests as possible as it gives you greater insight into candidates’ performance.