Hiring can be a challenging task for any company, but it can be especially daunting for a start-up. As a new business, you likely have limited resources and may be working with a small team, which means that every hire is crucial. The right employees can make all the difference in the success of your company, so it’s important to take the time to find the best candidates. Critical to note is that the wrong hire can be a significant impediment to your start-up & the ranges of reasons as to why they might not be suitable can range from fit, experience, their connection with the team, whether they are remote & vision for the firm. They can also be hugely expensive to hire & fire, especially with an equity option.
Here are a few things to consider when hiring as a start-up:
- Define your needs:
Before you start the hiring process, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you need in an employee. Make a list of the skills, experience, and qualities that you’re looking for in a candidate. This will help you create a targeted job posting and attract the right people. Understanding the exact needs, problems that are needing solving, even pitching them in the hiring process can give you both some consultancy on your problems but also the foresight as to what exactly they will do should they be hired.
It can also be said that understanding your budget should this go wrong is important, & it is a substantial loss. With a few precious months of runway, the wrong employee can spell ruin for the start-up. It is similarly important to use your networks to leverage the correct hire, an individual who can be justified by friends, family is much more likely to back you than an anonymous individual.
- The secondary point is to look for ex-start-up employees. Scaling the right start-up can create entire cohorts of motivated, talented individuals who have that same passion for building world class start-ups. A key example could be:
The formation of the Paypal Mafia, leading to the birth of Youtube, Reddit etc.
A key example was the funding by Elon Musk & Peter Thiel for the company Stripe, rising to become a Unicorn. The most recent of this iteration can show the growth of the new OpenAI & Atmos.
This example shows that start-ups breed start-ups & being able to leverage this will be incredibly effective in raising the employee quality.
- Be open to flexible arrangements:
As a start-up, you may not have the resources to offer the same benefits and perks as larger companies. However, you can still attract top talent by being open to flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or part-time positions. This can be a hinderance at times, both aligned with time zones, distance, investor meetings or even the pressure of working together, burnout can be present in remote working situations. The right employee is one who can be very effective at working on their own workstreams.
- Look for potential: While it’s important to consider a candidate’s experience and skills, don’t overlook potential. If you find a candidate who is a good fit for your company culture and has the right attitude but may not have all the necessary skills, consider investing in their training and development. This is critical for early junior hires, thinking about their growth potential & what they can be acquired for now is very important to recognise. The SDR you hire early on, could always grow to an Account Executive or VP of Sales if you give them the support needed.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If you’re struggling to find the right candidates, consider seeking the help of a recruitment agency or using job posting sites to reach a wider pool of potential employees. You can also tap into your professional network and ask for referrals.
Critically, there are now many support organisations allowing you to be assisted by those that know start-ups, a particular favourite includes Venatrix who support Venture Backed Start-ups in hiring incredible sales teams or Jumpstart for more operationally focused roles.
- Be prepared to negotiate: Once you’ve found the right candidate, be prepared to negotiate terms such as salary, benefits, and work schedule. Keep in mind that as a start-up, you may not have the same resources as larger companies, but being transparent about your budget and explaining the potential for growth can help attract top talent. It is also critical to recognise that someone joining a start-up knows the budget must be strapped but they need an individual to join & drastically improve the prospects of the firm. If you can offer options you ought to, a critical element can be demonstrated by the work of Wolt, Miki Kuusi & their options pool offered to all employees.
Overall, hiring as a start-up requires careful planning and consideration. By taking the time to define your needs, being open to flexible arrangements, and being prepared to negotiate, you can find the right employees to help your business succeed.