The moment has arrived. You’ve slaved away on your startup single-handedly for months (maybe years). You’ve poured your time, energy, and emotion into it, and now you need to take your business to the next level – but you can’t do it alone.
It’s time to hire your first employee.
A critical moment, for not only will you suddenly be responsible for someone else’s livelihood, but the successful candidate could make or break your business. The right person will double the speed of your operations, hurtling you closer to your end goal. The wrong person…well, they could cause a setback.
Steve Jobs was known for managing all of the hiring for his team, personally hiring 5,000 employees during his career. When interviewed for the book In the Company of Giants, Jobs said, “When you’re in a startup, the first 10 people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.”
To avoid business failure, check out our suggestions on hiring wisely.
Don’t Rush It
Now that you’ve decided to hire, you might feel like rushing the process and just get someone. But that approach won’t necessarily find you the right person. Recruitment can take up a significant portion of time, so you won’t want to have to do it all again. Do it once and do it right!
But Don’t Delay Either
It’s pretty easy to wait to expand your team. Startups typically don’t have money to spend on an extra salary, and you’re already used to doing everything yourself, right? But instead of thinking about what you’ll lose by hiring, think of what you’re losing by not hiring.
By working yourself into the ground, you’re shorting yourself on productivity, capacity, and brainpower. Hiring an employee enhances all three, bringing new ideas and energy to the table. Who knows, you might actually be able to take a weekend off occasionally!
Prepare a Position Description
As with any organisation, ensure that position descriptions, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. If you want the flexibility to add extra responsibilities along the way, be sure to discuss this during the interview stage so that the successful candidate is prepared for an evolving role.
Don’t be Afraid to Test Applicants
Some people have the knack (and nerve) to lie in interviews. To avoid ending up with an employee who can’t actually do what they claim they can do, ask them to complete a relevant task. This might be to outline your target market, write an article, or deliver a sales pitch. The results should help whittle down your candidates and give you confidence in the successful applicant.
This might seem unfair to otherwise ideal applicants, but the right personality is vital. A productive, happy team depends on a healthy workplace culture. If you like to have a laugh and the occasional practical joke, hire someone who will be up for that. If you’re a head-down, work-in-utter-silence kind of person, make sure your successful applicant aligns with that working environment.
On his LinkedIn blog, Richard Branson wrote about why he hires with a focus on personality. “The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture.” As far as Branson is concerned, “Personality is key.”
Don’t Pay Too Much
Everyone knows that startups aren’t rolling in cash. So don’t feel obliged to pay too much for your first employee. That’s not to say you shouldn’t adjust your budget for someone with ideal experience – but you might have to walk away if you can’t afford them.
Sometimes taking on an enthusiastic, qualified, but unexperienced employee can be the best thing to do: they’re fresh, they’re keen, and they want the experience. Getting paid whatever you can afford is still better than an unpaid internship!
Provide Proper Training
You’re stressed, you define busy, and now you’ve got someone to manage. It might seem impossible, but you’ve got to take the time to properly induct, train, and build a rapport with your employee. Do this, and you’ll save yourself a lot of future hassle.
Should I Even Hire?
While there is an element of risk involved in hiring, keep in mind that startup teams can be more attractive to investors. There is less risk of entrepreneur burn out, which can be catastrophic if the startup is led by an individual. With a team, you’ve got many hands to share the load.