6 Entrepreneurial and Innovative Traits to Look For in Your Next Hire


Last Updated: March 9th, 2021



Two business partners

Guest Post by Angela Ash

Innovation is the name of the game nowadays, no doubt about it. While this is a well-established fact, the mechanisms by which things change for the better are not easily defined and established. That’s why hiring new talent is difficult, and keeping them is even more difficult.

Startup founders have their own preferences, which do not necessarily always align, mainly because they operate in different industries and aim for different targets. Still, some traits are more likely to be observed in talented individuals than in regular nine-to-five employees.

For one thing, talented individuals always look for business environments characterized by high levels of freedom. In plain words, that means that they want the autonomy to make risky decisions, along with the freedom to overlook short-term goals.

Naturally, this practice is directly opposed to the traditional way of doing business, which makes the clash between the large conglomerates and startups even more obvious. If you are not willing to compromise on the rigid rules of traditional business, you will not be able to keep talent in your company for long.

Finally, innovation is synonymous with risk. Before you even start looking for innovators, you need to accept that many projects will not pay off. It is important to keep encouraging teams that fail at their first attempt so that they can be inspired to bring forth the necessary business changes in the long run.

So, how do you recognize talented people?

1. Look for people with high standards

In most cases, innovative mindsets come coupled with high standards (often incredibly high, in fact). Because people with high expectations will give their best to achieve their goals, they are likely to employ all their creativity — a practice that often plays out in unexpected ways.

Such people are also positive — a defining feat of the entrepreneurial mindset. It is not a difficult leap to conclude that people with the disposition for entrepreneurial negativity see fewer opportunities and are highly unlikely to be risk takers.

2. Look for people thinking outside the box

Innovative people are basically dreamers. They are capable of thinking up projects traditional businessmen usually don't. It is, however, important to remember that even when people have talent, they do not necessarily have the means to make their ideas become reality. Dreamers should be encouraged and given the necessary resources to make big changes happen.

The easiest way to spot such people is by observing how they work. In most cases, they will make their incredible results appear easy to achieve. Additionally, they will use technology to their benefit, and even be a little disruptive as they shake things up.

Finally, remember that famous quote attributed to Bill Gates: “I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

People thinking outside the box operate in a much similar fashion. They’ll find shortcuts and unexpected strategies to make their dreams come true.

3. Look for action-takers

Innovation is risky business, as already mentioned. It is, therefore, not sufficient only to have creative ideas and high standards. You should also be willing to take action to actually make those things happen.

All entrepreneurs are risk-takers because startups are a fast-paced environment. Anyone unable to catch up with the constant changes will be out of the game soon enough.

That’s why it is important to be willing to take the necessary risks as they pop up (and they do, all the time).

If prospective employees prefer a nine-to-five job and are satisfied with performing their tasks in an orderly fashion, they are not innovators. Innovators always look for ways to improve performance and products, even when given menial tasks.

4. Look for people interested in achievements, rather than great salaries

It goes without saying that everyone looks for a good salary, but it is also true that most people don’t go beyond that. If they get enough money, they will happily do their jobs, never looking for any actual change. In fact, they will be well opposed to it, since risks don’t always pay off.

Talented people have a vision that salaried people rarely do. They are passionate about company goals and always look for ways to improve them.

5. Look for people willing to include others in their mission

There’s no doubt that when employees get along, positive results are inevitable. That is achieved only when the vision and the mission of the company are more important than personal differences.

It is no wonder that startups encourage team building activities and workshops where everyone is encouraged to propose their ideas, as this is the fastest way to get people connected by a higher purpose.

Unlike business traditionalists, innovators know for a fact that cooperation is essential for success, especially in risky environments where innovation is ultimately linked.

Simply put, startups are, in many ways, similar to families, since failing is not an option. Everyone faces challenges, and everyone succeeds or fails.

6. Look for originality

Needless to say, copycats never drive innovation. It is original ideas that make businesses stand out in competitive environments.

Innovators are resourceful no matter the challenge and capable of turning the situation to their benefit, even when additional funds are not around (which happens most of the time).

In a nutshell

Innovation is hard work and a joint effort. Risks are a given, and so is failure. However, there are different ways to define failure.

Magnus Goransson, Design Director of Lego’s Creative Play Lab, argues that the definition of failure depends on the glasses people are looking through. Commenting on Lego’s Nexo Knights, Goransson says that they were a huge success among Germans, but a complete failure among American kids.

“So what glasses are we actually looking through when we talk about failure? Because it seems like depending on the glasses you put on, they change what failure is,” says Goransson.

It would only seem fitting to apply this approach to all things innovation. Talented people will always look for ways to turn the situation to their benefit, because they are positive thinkers, willing to take risks, and ready to include everyone in their mission. Just remember to reward them appropriately! Otherwise, they’ll take their talents elsewhere.

Employee retention is a big problem all over the globe these days, but it doesn’t have to be your problem! Keep your employees happily engaged, and you’ll keep those team members that you searched so effectively to find in the first place!

Angela Ash is a professional content writer and editor, with a myriad of experience in all forms of content management, SEO, proofreading, outreach, and social media. She currently works with Flow SEO, a boutique agency founded by Viola Eva, which offers in-depth SEO analysis, custom SEO strategies, and implementation.

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