Hiring right puts start-up ahead of competition

David Slutzkin - Flippa CEO

Too many start-ups discount the need to invest in quality staff early in the piece, but that’s one mistake Dave Slutzkin was determined not to make when setting up Flippa. Here’s how the start-up CEO ensured he staffed the business right, from day one.

Flippa is a leading marketplace where people can buy and sell websites. The business is already selling $30 million worth of sites each year, and has plans to up this to $100 million in the near future. The concept behind this successful start-up is simple, Slutzkin tells Dynamic Business.

“Sellers come to us with websites that they want to turn into cash, and buyers come to us wanting to invest in web businesses. We provide these two businesses with help – we give the buyers a way to find what they’re looking for and allow them to place a bid in the auction, and the sellers a one stop shop of websites to invest in.”

Its position as one of the largest and most credible marketplaces for buying and selling websites means the business is enjoying growth of close to 100 percent every year. This ongoing expansion requires a strong team of employees to support it, and Slutzkin is proud of the staff he’s recruited.

“We’ve kept our recruitment in-house and at the highest level, and we’ve made sure to put in the hard yards in to get the right people on board. This hasn’t always been the most immediate choice but it’s always been the right one,” he said.

“After all, when the rubber hits the road you can’t do everything yourself. When you’re growing a team from three people to – currently – fifteen, there are a lot of decisions you have to make. It’s been hard work to make it happen, but we’ve ended up with a great team that I’m very proud of,” he added.

The key to hiring right for Slutzkin has been to recognise his weaknesses and to then employ people to fill those gaps.

“Your idea is fairly important but your execution is the real key, and that is going to be determined by the quality of the team you can build around you,” he said.

This need for self-reflection and self-awareness is one of the biggest business lessons Slutzkin has learned to date. He says being open to learning is one of the most vital things a business owner can do.

“No-one gets everything right every time, and that shouldn’t be the expectation – from yourself or from the people you work with. You’re going to make mistakes, so learn from that, and if you’re doing it right, you’re surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, so make sure you learn from them as well,” he added.

Persistence is another trait entrepreneurs and business owners need to exhibit, especially given one of the biggest risks of being a start-up: “That you’ll get bored or scared before you succeed.”

“Any business will have partial failures and speed-bumps, but if you’re willing to persist and work your way through them, and if you keep a positive, learning mindset, then you’ll get to a really good place in the end,” Slutzkin added.