Running a Startup: Making Your First Hires

Nabila Ikram
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If you’re considering hiring your first employees, then that means you’re doing well enough in your startup to consider taking that next step--Congratulations!

When you start a company, as they say, you put your sweat and tears into making your dream come to life. So, when it’s time to start building a team and hire others, you want to hire employees who share your vision and values so they can continue and build upon your efforts, not let them become futile.

Therefore, before you proceed, it’s important to make sure that you really are at a point where you are ready to take a risk and hire employees. Some factors that indicate you probably need to hire someone include:

  • Turning customers down
  • Not having enough time for paperwork or administrative work
  • Not being able to provide good customer support
  • Needing someone with specific skills

Some of these tasks can be delegated to freelancers or independent contractors. If the tasks are critical to growing your business, hire in-house employees. If the tasks are not as critical, you can outsource to a freelancer. 

Startups have tight budgets, and therefore, a wrong hire can throw a big wrench in the company’s progress. Onboarding can be an expensive task and to lose that amount of time and money on a wrong hire can be detrimental to a company just starting out. Therefore, as mentioned, first ensure that you, in fact, are ready to hire your first employees. When you’ve determined that you are, then make sure that you clearly define the role or job description of the employee. This not only helps the candidate know exactly what will be expected of them, it helps you focus on your goals and vision for the company from point A to point B and how this position and employee will fit in that picture. Again, this fit is incredibly important, because if there isn’t a proper fit between you and the employee, then it can slow your company down tremendously.

When interviewing, especially for a startup, you want to make sure candidates have four particular traits:

  • Being a generalist: If the candidate is a generalist, he or she can help manage basic tasks across the board so you don’t have to hire more experienced people immediately.
  • Having grit/perseverance: In any startup, grit and perseverance is essential. This means candidates have a strong demonstrated potential to overcome obstacles- a given in a startup environment.
  • Being believers: they believe in the vision of the company and will work hard to push it along a path of success.
  • Having a team first attitude: this means keeping office politics out of the picture. Office politics do nothing but bring negativity and bring down team morale, and since the point of hiring others is to develop a cohesive, functional team, it is important to consider candidates who have a professional, team-first attitude.

The startup phase of a company is essential for the long-term route and success of the company. Having said that, this phase will be riddled with plenty of obstacles and growing pains. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that when you start thinking about building a team that you make sure the time is right and the people who you hire are right. Afterall, they’re the people who are going to help you succeed.



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