Any entrepreneur will know how difficult it can be to make that all important first hire. You have spent months, maybe even years living and breathing your business idea and it’s tough to let go of some of this control. But as your company takes off, hiring new members of staff becomes essential and it’s important to take the right people on the journey with you. Who you hire early on will play a big role in shaping what your business becomes so take time to really find the right fit. Here are a few things to bear in mind when taking the plunge:
1. Attitude and values are key
I choose attitude over experience every time. Of course, having an impressive CV is desirable but if your new hire does not share your values then it is simply not going to work. The first step here is to be really clear with yourself about what your own values are and what type of culture you want your business to embody. Once you have identified these, it will be a lot easier to spot them in other people.
2. Beware the trap of hiring yourself
It can be very easy to hire a version of yourself because you feel comfortable and at ease with someone but do not fall into this trap! As important as it is to find things in common with a new hire, you need to really think about the expertise and experience you do not have and what you really need to be successful. Make a list of each and see what you are missing. Hiring someone with exactly the same skill set as you isn’t going to add anything, so dig deep and recognize your own shortcomings. A fresh perspective will also inject some creativity and new ways of thinking into any business. Getting the balance right in the early stages is crucial as every hire will have a big impact on the success of the business.
3. Who do they know?
Think about where the business needs to build its contact base and how a new employee might help achieve this. Do you need someone with great investor contacts, or perhaps someone who has worked with designers that can help transform your brand or user experience? Building relationships is essential and together your staff can help build the company’s pool of connections and even take it in a direction you might not have thought of.
4. Solve problems, don’t create them
The early stages of a business are filled with unforeseen challenges and your success depends upon overcoming them. There are all sorts of areas we’re expected to become an expert in overnight so it is important to find someone that can take on these challenges with you and think creatively to solve them. A great hire should be reliable and able to take control of difficult and stressful situations.
5. Think about the bigger picture
It is also important that your new hire can cope with the pressure of working in an unstructured environment of a startup. Things change quickly and they will need to be able to adapt just as fast and have the mental agility to cope with this! Whilst you will inevitably need someone further down the line that will be able to help put processes in place, in the early stages being too process driven can actually make dealing with the uncertainty and stress of a young business even more difficult. Think about the bigger picture at the outset and be flexible about skill sets and job descriptions. Hiring is costly, not just in terms of salary and recruitment fee if you have to use an agency, but in terms of your time and business opportunity.