It’s safe to say that entrepreneurs have their fair share of challenges. One of the most daunting challenges can be hiring additional staff. On one hand, once startups begin to grow, it’s nearly impossible to manage the overflowing plate of responsibilities on your own; on the other hand, hiring is a new experience and it can be difficult to know how to hire your first employees accurately. An entrepreneur’s natural focus is on the company, the product or service offered, and identifying next steps to grow the business. And when the time is right, hiring new staff is a natural part of this growth. So if this is new to you, here are a few things you should know about hiring your first few employees:
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to envision the kind of culture you want for your startup. What’s going to inspire people today, but also scale with you as the business grows? It’s common to think in terms of the individual startup roles that need to be filled, less so in terms of how employees will work together and the kind of dynamic that’s going to create. Without a big picture, high-level vision for how you want your company to feel in the future, you’ll come across a bunch of stumbling blocks in the months and years ahead. So why not be proactive from the start?
What’s the solution? Create a definition or description of your company’s culture and what you envision for the future. Be specific and create a context to abide by. Then, build a team of people who believe in that vision and who know how to play off each other’s strengths to realize that vision. When you hire your first employee, and every employee after that, it has to be with the goal of building a functioning team that sets the context for what unfolds in the future. Knowledge and skills can be acquired over time, but a person’s temperament is who they are at the core. So although you’ll likely have some technical requirements for the people you’re hiring, put an emphasis on culture fit, and then look at knowledge and skills. And if you require some support with defining your culture, connect with an HR consultant who’s knowledgeable in this area.
It’s important to really understand the basic employment regulations in your province or state that apply to your business, and the product or service you offer. With so much going on, it’s easy to forget that there are regulations and requirements that have to be implemented before staff can come on board. These might include things like:
- documented payroll procedures
- workplace safety and insurance policies
- established employment standards including vacation time and pay, pregnancy and parental leave regulations, public holidays, minimum wage, hours to work, overtime, minimum working age
- hiring requirements including avoiding discrimination, having an employee record file, verifying candidates are eligible to legally work in your province or state
Implementing additional workplace policies and procedures as the company grows will be necessary to ensure that the entire team experiences a safe and healthy work environment.
What’s the solution? That’s a lot for any one person to take in. If you didn’t do this when you started your business, a good starting point is to research the government website of your province or state, and check out the basic employee regulations that you’re required to follow as a business. If you’re comfortable with all the existing regulations but don’t have the time to do research whenever your startup needs a new staff member, it might be time to hire your first HR full-timer.
Hire Right the First Time
A common trap is hiring too fast, feeling the pressure to get stuff off your plate as soon as possible and hiring someone too quickly. This can happen for a variety of reasons, like referrals from colleagues or a low application rate on a job board, but it’s impossible to make an informed decision instead of doing the bare minimum. You might find yourself stuck in a situation where it takes longer to fire or let go of the person you’ve just hired than it did to hire them in the first place. Total waste of time and money.
What’s the solution? Consider connecting with an HR consultant or agency. If you’ve created a candidate persona or have a job profile for the role in mind, they can do the posting and searching for you – some agencies will even do the interviewing as well. Many HR service providers use some sort of personality assessment that can provide accurate information about candidates’ true temperament, which can provide insight about how they’ll fit in your company’s culture, and how likely they are to succeed in the role. This can drastically increase your chances of hiring the best fit for the role – saving you time and money in the long-term, instead of wasting it on a hasty hire.
At this point, you should be off to a good start with your first hires. Bonus points if you're thinking about hiring some of the key positions that any startup should have on their team. Remember – if you have any questions, there are HR consultants and agencies out there who can help you out. Depending on where you are, your city might also be home to monthly startup development nights, where you can cover some of these things with entrepreneurs who’ve gone through it before. Good luck!