To hire or not to hire? A pivotal question for any start-up. Growth and its potential are intensely important during the early stages of any business, let alone for start-ups.
Perhaps so much attention is unwarranted – and you need to quickly decide whether to take a leap of faith and invest upfront in people before the dollars roll in, or wait.
It is a huge gamble, because if you are indecisive and wait, you may totally jeopardise your business because you’re not ready to support customer demand when they start to roll in.
When is the right time to hire?
We all start with business plans; these plans include budgets which are formed by the business’ founders, and as a result, they can be optimistic. However, optimism is what drives a founder, and the chance of success is directly related to a founder’s belief in their business.
The issue of course, especially in start-ups, is that a budget is in a constant state of change; the only constants being growth which encourages growing costs, and revenue which fluctuates.
For a start-up, growth is exciting and winning new clients are victories to be celebrated, but clients need the right level of attention to make sure they are happy and in return provide positive word-of-mouth to drive further sales and repeat business.
Additionally, building close one-on-one client relationships will help to ensure your product remains ‘fit for purpose’.
Every client gallantly garnered adds to a working day, meaning that more people are essential to maintaining service levels, and the key question isn’t just when, but who?
The when, although daunting, needs to be tackled before service levels drop (again, in a start-up world ‘word of mouth’ has exceptional power). As a business, your gut will tell you when the time is right.
You must resist the “opportunity cost” argument happening in your own mind – the one telling you that it will take you longer to train someone than simply do it yourself! That is a lie!
More importantly, who to hire?
The more important factor here is the ‘who’. Who should you hire?
They must share your vision and your passion. This may seem far-fetched, but it is a must for success, and I believe it is possible. Don’t approach your hiring decisions solely on achieving a hiring quota based on your budget.
For a start-up it is all about the type of people you hire, their adaptability, the level of commitment to the team and the business.
They, of course, need to have the right skill set for the job i.e. a problem-solver (and youtypically have a smaller talent pool to select from at this stage of a business as you are “unknown”), but they also need to have a strong will and need to fit easily into your organisation’s culture.
Handling adversity is a critical skillset as well as an openness to listen and learn (not come in thinking they know everything as that goes against the grain of any start-up!).
So, in hindsight, I would say whenever you do start hiring make sure you hire the right people from Day 1.
Staff that are less-than-amazing are not going to give you the right return on investment, and the cost of changing staff is an expense that start-ups don’t need. Your hires should provide tangible benefits to your business almost immediately.
The key is to attract these kinds of people before you get desperate, as training them will take up your critical time from the front line. Start-ups can never compete with the compensation packages and benefits offered by big corporations.
Therefore, it is so much harder to compete in the ‘war for talent’.
So, how can you attract this talent?
Why would top talent come to work for a start-up instead of an established company with a great reputation that offers a much higher salary?
And if this talent does knock on your door, what is driving them to knock and can you realistically offer them what they define as “new value” instead of a top salary?
Make sure you, as the CEO, are part of the hiring process and spend the time to share your vision. Ask ‘culture questions’ to see how well they fitted into their last organisation.
Spend time to share your ‘founder story’ so new hires clearly understand the ‘heart and soul’ behind the company and can then decide whether they want to be part of the journey, or not. It is important to stress-test upfront.
At pixevety, we were not able to afford the typical HR set-up – resources and/or experiences – so we had to learn as went along (and referenced the Fair Work Commission website often).
When hiring, our brand and credibility were unknown, and longevity was
questionable, so sometimes we struggled to get CVs and in the early days we relied more heavily on our own personal networks. My advice on that front – don’t do it.
Hiring family or friends will most likely will end up in frustration and tears, and those relationships are then tainted for life.
Not everyone is suited to working in a start-up environment. I’d say only 25 per cent of the population is suited to it. It’s not an easy environment to work in as it’s so fluid, demanding and ever-changing.
For those who are a good match, the experience they gain working in a challenging start-up environment will only help to strengthen their careers as they grow with the company.
So when questioning when and who to hire, remember that a solid team who are not overworked are key to taking care of your current and future work. And healthy start-ups should always plan for growth, rather than hope for it or react to it!
Tammy Anson is the Chief Marketing Officer at child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety. pixevety is an easy-to-use online platform that offers a hassle-free solution to reduce the daily stress and privacy pitfalls of managing and sharing photos and videos of children. pixevety is simple, safe, smart and secure https://pixevety.com/