How To Attract Top-Tier Staff To Your Business

6 tips from Appster co-founder and co-CEO, Mark McDonald

How To Attract Top Tier Staff final

Ask any successful entrepreneur what the secret to building a great company is and the answer you’ll most likely get is, “Great companies are built by great teams.” That’s certainly the case at Appster. However, as many will attest, recruiting top talent and building a great team is not as easy as it sounds. From our experience there are several things you can do as an entrepreneur to make your company more attractive to top talent and get the best out of your staff.


It’s no secret that top people want to work with other top people. Or as Steve Jobs put it, “A-players only want to work with A-players.” Top talent are often driven by personal growth and therefore they look for environments where they can work with other similarly ambitious and talented individuals.

But you don’t find A-players on job websites or through recruitment consultants – one of the best ways to find them is through referrals from people you already respect. Likewise, hire talent from companies you regard highly, or identify work you admire and backtrack to the people who created it.


Just like the fact that most of Appster’s employees don’t want to work for just another app developer, top people don’t seek work at generic companies. It’s the big vision that inspires people and gives meaning to their work. The early Apple wasn’t just about selling personal computers; its goal was to make a dent in the universe by building tools that advance humankind. Likewise, at Appster we’re building a development hub where revolutionary ideas and entrepreneurial visionaries can flourish.


It’s great to have a vision and an amazing workplace, but if nobody knows about it they won’t have any desire to be a part of it. Letting the world know what your company is doing is also essential. Running and presenting at events, blogging and getting positive press are some of the best ways to market yourself to talent.

Aside from giving interviews and making headlines, one of Appster’s top marketing channels is our Disruptive Startups meet-up that we run on a regular basis in Melbourne, where we get to meet and hear from other exciting entrepreneurs. What started out as a small meet-up group has become a premier community event over time, bringing together people who want to build revolutionary products.


Money indeed can be a great motivator. If you’re a promising start-up, providing stock options is a great motivator for people to join and stay with your company. However, we’ve found that by far the best motivators are the ones that are intrinsic. A lot of employees want to know they’re doing meaningful work and are advancing themselves. [Having a] sense of autonomy is another strong motivator – it can take the form of flexible working hours or the freedom to do work their way. 


This is one of those management buzzwords, but it rings true. The main difference between a boss and a leader is a leader gets his or her hands dirty. One of the main reasons why Napoleon is considered one of the greatest generals ever is that he always fought on the front line. And most importantly, you get back what you give – your attitude and behaviour affects your environment which in turn ultimately affects you and your company.


To attract and retain top people, you also have to protect them. That often means zero tolerance for people who turn out to be manipulative, dishonest, belittling or egocentric, no matter the value they bring. This is also known as the ‘No A**hole Rule’. After studying hundreds of companies, Robert Sutton, who coined the term, found that failure to implement the No A**hole Rule can increase employee turnover, stifle communication and lower employee self-esteem and health. All of which are tremendously important to building a great team and company. 

*Catch Mark speaking at Kick.Start.Smart. Brisbane & Melbourne*

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