Many obstacles await entrepreneurs and their startup companies, but startup hiring may be the most important challenge to overcome. Generally speaking, this challenge is made worse when the business owner's decisions are guided by budgetary concerns or a lack of clarity about where the startup is headed and what types of employees are needed to achieve success.
"When startups need to hire it is often at a critical time," notes Danny Boice at Speek.com. "The business needs to grow yet the essential processes are unclear, and the demands for performance are intense. This pressure can lead to making bad decisions when adding new team members."
Here are some suggestions for ways to overcome hiring challenges early on, paving the way for the creation of a talented and efficient team:
Take Your Time
Considering the frenetic pace at which most startups operate, it's tempting to rush the hiring process and work out the kinks afterwards. But this approach frequently backfires. Rather than hiring the first person to submit a resume or someone you've just met at a trade conference, take the time needed to carefully evaluate a number of applications, assessing each candidate's qualifications and experience and how well they might fit your company’s needs. HR experts advise employers to interview at least three individuals for each position (providing a more rounded picture of available talent) and to enlist one or more team members to provide their perspectives as well.
Be Wary About Hiring Someone You Know
Entrepreneurs who announce their intention to hire are often deluged with suggestions of friends, relatives, a former co-worker, etc. This may appear like a quick and easy talent pool to choose from, but hiring someone you know who doesn’t have the qualifications your company needs can come with sizable risks.
"There needs to be a certain objectivity and accountability in the workplace," says Brad Sugars, founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. "Friends and family expect to be treated to a different standard — and they should. Away from your business, but never in it."
Know What You're Hiring For
Another common mistake is hiring first, and then figuring out what the position entails afterward. Every role, regardless of its place within your organization, should come with a detailed job description outlining specific roles and responsibilities. Such a job description is a very useful resource for assessing candidates' work experience, level of knowledge, and qualifications. A job that's vaguely conceived in your head will likely lead to a poor choice of job candidate, with equally questionable results for your business.
Hire Specialists Who Can Be part of a Team
Some prospective candidates showcase themselves as "good at a lot of things." In a rushed hiring situation, such an individual may seem like the best choice for tackling the wide array of duties a startup involves. Chances are, they won't be equipped to handle the specialized tasks your business demands. By hiring a person with a proven track record of specialized skills, you not only address a specific need but you take a big step towards building a high-performing team of talented employees.
Keep Your Culture in Mind
Skills, experience and attitude are all compelling attributes to consider in a potential team member. But remember, not everyone's "built" for a startup culture characterized by long work-hours, a helter-skelter pace, and changing conditions that demand flexibility on every employee's part. During the interview process, ask questions that focus on their past experience in a startup environment, asking for specific examples about how they overcame hurdles to achieve objectives in an often frenzied atmosphere. "Grace under pressure" is often a key element in a successful hire.
Don't Choose an Employee Based on Budgetary Conditions
Most startups have limited budgets, so hiring a candidate on the cheap may seem like a logical strategy. It's not. Hiring the wrong person will cost you more in the long run. If it's clear who the best candidate is, do everything you can to recruit that person with an attractive salary package and then continue to invest in his or her training. The long-term ROI will be worth it.
Many challenges await a new business owner, but none are more urgent than hiring a first-class team. "Without a skilled team, your startup will not be able to implement its overall strategy or achieve its mission," says entrepreneurial consultant Sheraz Saeedy. "Simply put, the growth of your startup is highly dependent on the employees you hire to fill each role in your company."