Getting a job at Return Path is harder than getting into a good college. We have 400 employees, but we got there by identifying 30,000 potential hires, vetting them, negotiating a deal with the ones we liked, implementing a rigorous, 90-day onboarding process, and capping it off with a 90-day review to make sure that they'll make it over the long haul. All the while, our competitors were trying to do the exact same thing—as were hundreds of other companies drawing from the same pool of talent. It's no wonder that hiring is one of the many full-time jobs you take on when you become a startup CEO.
Retaining good people has always been at the top of my list, even in the dark days. But hiring presents some real challenges. Many of these aren't unique to startups—it's always tough to find A players—but there are three things I've observed that are uniquely tough about hiring in an entrepreneurial environment: