Getting top talent can require paying the highest salary, but not always. Stock options are an obvious incentive to keep your employees invested in your company’s success. But salary and stock options are extrinsic motivators that will only get you so far.
Often, the best motivation doesn’t come from outside rewards, it comes from within. Everybody has six basic human needs in life: certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, or contribution. Find out which of the needs get your prospective hire fired up, and then show how the job directly links to those needs. You see this done all the time with social startups, which link their companies to some greater good, such as a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) or an emotional social issue.
Beyond extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, there are a lot of startup perks that make you more attractive than corporate America, such as a flexible schedule, constant challenge and variety, and the feeling of accomplishment.
Look for people who thrive in the challenging startup environment, understand their motivations, and link their jobs to those motivators. You’ll be amazed at what you can pull off.