Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Being an HR Entrepreneur is a Piece of Cake

If I had a dollar for every HR start-up, I wouldn't have to start up my own HR venture!

Have you noticed how many people seem to be starting HR companies lately? I talked to an Angel Fund manager a few weeks back and he said “We've already talked to 2 HR start-ups this week.” There was no room at that Inn.

I wonder if these people starting new ventures in HR feel like HR is a piece of cake. There are certain things in the world where people think they are experts without putting in the effort to gain expertise.  Parenting is one example, marketing seems to be that way too, but so is HR.

I find HR entrepreneurship very hard. I have helped many HR companies over the last 30 years discover and build new products for HR. After helping sell the last one, I decided to start a business on my own. I have (as I said above) 30 years of experience building HR products. But I have never been an HR practitioner. So the first thing I did was form an advisory group made up of some of the best HR people I know. They are my life blood and my muses. It took several ideas developed, proposed, adjusted and revised before we came to anything we thought made sense and would truly fill a hole in existing HR processes. (We didn't want to build the same thing everyone else is building). It wasn't a piece of cake.

The result of this effort is what we call Referral Link:

We just released yesterday – but we still have miles to go. The product is good but it is not everything that it can be. HR is a crowded market, HR Directors and Managers are smart, savvy buyers, HR has extremely tight budgets and very demanding ROI requirements, and HR people know when a product really helps them and when it is just another version of something that already works well enough. 

And boy has this been anything but a piece of cake.