5 Strategies for Identifying Innovative Candidates to Replace You as Founder

Innovative candidate sitting in front of management board during interview

In 2012, Jaclyn Johnson founded Create & Cultivate, a media company that educates and inspires women to succeed in business. 

By 2018, Johnson had grown Create & Cultivate to eight employees when an acquirer offered her a staggering $40 million. Unfortunately, the deal was too good to be true. The acquirer pulled out when they discovered the business’s dependence on Johnson to succeed.  

A few years later, Johnson signed an acquisition offer from Corridor Capital for $22 million. While still a lucrative deal, it was a significant decrease from the original proposal. 

Like Johnson, if your company becomes dependent on you, it may cost you. The most valuable companies don’t rely on the owner’s involvement to succeed. However, finding extraordinary talent to replace yourself can be challenging. 

At Maximum Possibilities, we collaborate with you to identify exceptional candidates who can step into your shoes as a founder.  

Let’s delve into some practical strategies that will help you pinpoint candidates who possess the capabilities to assume the leadership reins.  

The Biggest Mistake Most Founders Make When Trying to Replace Themselves

Finding a general manager, second-in-command, or COO to replace themselves is one of the most complex projects founders may tackle.  

Whether you rely on a recruiter or your network to find candidates, a comprehensive background review is one of the first steps to shortlisting talent. Many founders make the common error of being dazzled by a Fortune 500 name on a resume or LinkedIn profile. While impressive, the skill set required to succeed at a Fortune 500 company can differ from the needs of a young company.  

Big companies often have well-established processes, systems, and hierarchies. People who thrive in big companies often excel at winning within a predetermined framework. However, there is no framework to follow in a younger, scrappier start-up. Accordingly, many prominent company veterans often struggle in a more entrepreneurial environment.  

Instead of relying solely on an impressive resume, prioritize flexible, action-oriented, and innovative candidates. In short, individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets. 

Five Ways to Identify Exceptional Candidates 

Here are five hiring strategies you can use to identify innovative candidates: 

  1. Look for problem-solvers: Innovation often involves finding creative solutions to problems. Look for candidates who think strategically and develop innovative solutions to past challenges.
  2. Ask about their approach to problem-solving: During the interview, ask candidates to describe their approach to problem-solving. Further, ask them to explain how they’ve implemented their suggestions. This will give you insight into their thought processes and willingness to take risks and think creatively.
  3. Evaluate their learning agility: Innovative employees are open to learning and adaptable. Look for candidates with a history of taking on new challenges and learning new skills.
  4. Assess their ability to work in teams: Innovation often involves collaboration, so look for candidates who can work effectively in teams. Ask about past collaborations and how they have contributed to the success of those teams. 
  5. Consider their creativity: Look for candidates with a creative portfolio or who have creative hobbies or personal projects. Outside interests can indicate their potential to bring new and innovative ideas to your organization. 

Your company probably relies on you for a healthy dose of creativity and innovation. But if your goal is to replace yourself, following these five strategies can increase your chances of identifying candidates that will inject new life into your organization.  

Reaching Your Maximum Possibilities 

If you are considering selling your business, let Maximum Possibilities guide you through the complexities of finding the perfect candidate to carry on your legacy. By finding innovative talent, you can create a sustainable and thriving business not limited by your involvement.  

The first step is completing a Value Builder Scorecard for your company. This survey will help us to identify strengths and weaknesses that we can address to increase its overall value.   

Schedule a discovery call with us to learn more about achieving maximum possibilities for your business. 

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