By Ellie Martin
The hyper-growth nature of many startups and small businesses dictates that companies must be able to move fast and adapt quickly in order to stay afloat. When it comes to small business attracting customers or startups staying lean as they seek out funding, the market is very competitive, no matter what industry you’re in, and requires flexibility and the ability to pivot quickly without refocusing your whole business. This principle holds especially true for hiring. Bringing on the right people at the right time, and doing so without using too many resources or taking too much time, plays a huge part in how you set yourself up for success going forward.
As it stands now, there are two predominant hiring practices most business use: hiring freelancers or traditional recruiting for full-time employees. On one hand, freelancing is becoming very popular, thanks in part to vetted freelance networks like Toptal, because they allow businesses to stay lean and hire people for certain projects. This contract-based model means companies don’t have to lock down full-time workers and can pivot quickly when a project is finished. While this is good for flexibility, relying too much on freelancing can lead to a lot of turnover, and it may not be great for company culture if there’s a revolving door of people coming and going.
On the other hand, the traditional method of hiring full-time employees through recruiters or your own candidate search is still very popular. Having full-timers assures you have a stable company culture full of people who really know the DNA of your business and are invested in what you’re trying to achieve. Plus, a great many workers like the stability offered by a full-time position. That said, the traditional candidate search, and having lots of people on salary, can be very time- and resource-consuming, something that business wanting to stay on the edge and grow quickly often can’t afford. Clearly, there are pros and cons to both models of hiring.
Luckily, hiring does not have to be a pick-your-poison sort of practice. One new hiring model in particular, now being called Bring Your Own Team (BYOT), is trying to find the happy medium and balance the best of both of these practices. Made popular by Stripe back in April, BYOT allows small groups of people (in Stripe’s case, up to five) to apply as a collective unit to a company.
In a blog post announcing the BYOT model, Stripe’s Avi Bryant said, “the industry has always focused on hiring atoms; we’d like to try hiring molecules.” Citing the idea that people are inspired by and work best with certain close friends and colleagues, Stripe’s BYOT practice aims to eliminate the forced chemistry that can occur with separately hired individuals or freelancers being shoehorned into a team.
The BYOT idea is now picking up traction, especially among consulting and strategy firms, such as the ITA Group or the Germany-based SinnerSchrader, in part because it seems to check many of the boxes that either full-timing or freelancing may leave out. For businesses, BYOT immediately staffs a team, and one that already knows how to work well together, meaning they can make an impact as soon as they’re hired. Whether you’re hiring full-time employees or looking for a group of freelancers for one particular project, both models require you to seek out separate individuals and bring them together.
It can eat up a lot of time and effort to take on the task of hiring new employees, especially if you have to do it one person at a time, but with BYOT, you immediately have a handful of referred candidates right out of the gate, cutting down on your search time. For employees, on the other hand, the benefits of BYOT are pretty obvious: you have access to the perks of a full-time employee, and you get to work with a team of people you know well, enjoy working with, and who bring out the best in you.
The BYOT practice is still in its nascent phases, but there are some detractors who are skeptical of the process, thinking it little more than another off-the-wall hiring technique. Some will argue, and perhaps rightly, that you, the employer, should look at every individual on their own to make sure they’re a good fit for the company. What if there’s one person you really like on a team application, but one or two on that same team that you’re not so crazy about? Will you compromise the hire and hope that they’ll produce good work together? There are still some kinks to work out of this system, and Stripe has openly admitted that it’s an experiment meant to be tinkered with, but it will be exciting to see how it shapes hiring practices in years to come.
So what do you think of the new BYOT recruiting trend? Do you think it’s genius, or is it a wacky experiment that’s bound to fail? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.