Hiring Your Startup’s First Employee – A Guide

Being an entrepreneur, you put in a lot of hard work and are used to working alone. You have been a jack of all trades, but now you think it might be time to hire employees to lay off some workload and manage tasks easily. It is important that you start hiring at the correct time before it’s too late and work starts piling up. Whereas hiring too soon may cause you to run out of cash.

Hiring your startup’s first employee is always tricky as you don’t want to make the wrong choice. Not only this but it also entails some legal requirements and costs like insurance and training.

So here’s a guide to guide you through the process of hiring your startup’s first employee.

Why And When Should You Hire Your Startup’s First Employee?

As much as you want to continue shaping your startup all on your own, you can’t do it for long. Sooner or later, you start noticing that certain small tasks like bookkeeping and other paperwork take up too much of your time when you can easily hire someone else to do them for you.

Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to hire your startup’s first employee.

You Are Cutting Down On Work

Failing to manage all your commitments and cutting down on work is not a good sign for your business.

For instance, a new customer comes to you with a bulk order but you turn them down because you are not able to manage your existing orders, let alone a new one. That same customer then strikes a deal with your competitor. Later it becomes difficult for you to acquire new customers.

Giving away customers to your competitors is like feeding your own enemy!

Customers Are Unhappy

Offering superb customer service can do wonders for your business. Very few customers bother to complain, and if they have to wait long before their problem is addressed, you will end up losing your existing customers.

If you sit down to assess and resolve each problem, it will never end. Having someone who entirely focuses on building and maintaining a healthy customer relationship will come in handy. Besides, the cost of retaining customers is much easier than the acquiring cost of new customers.

You Can’t Focus On Business’ Growth Because Of Too Much Work

Engaging in daily mundane tasks can distract you from focusing on the company’s growth strategy. If not acted upon quickly, you won’t be able to meet the forecasts and goals set earlier, thus leading to stagnant growth, which is not advisable, especially at an earlier stage of the business.

Hiring new employees will help you in performing tasks accurately down to the nearest detail and lets you focus on market research and development ideas.

You Require A Helping Hand

Being a lone worker leaves you with limited sources to dwell on your potential goals.

Let’s say you found a new source of income in the form of a product launch, business expansion, or any new service. But you can’t execute it immediately because you need someone to help you out.

When you hire someone new, you fuel the possibility of a new revenue stream to materialise. Many tasks are delegated, and you can focus on other important jobs like research and implementation.

You Want A Specific Skill Set In The Team

Let’s say you have a new product idea in your mind and have formulated the whole plan to develop and market it. But you need someone to engineer the design and make it ready for the market.

This is where you decide to hire someone who is well-versed in the area you are trying to venture into. For instance, if you are looking for a new e-commerce website, it would be best advised to hire an expert developer or webmaster.

The experts you hire work on those areas you don’t relatively excel at and up your scale in terms of business capacity to take up new clients and orders.

Who Should You Hire First?

Initially, you need to focus on people who –

  • Fit your team,
  • You can trust,
  • Know the business ropes.

If you hire someone with the right attitude and aptitude, they will grow along with your startup, thus putting you in a better position of handling any growth challenges that come your way.

Hire someone with the skills your business needs

When it comes to hiring your startup’s first employee, you must hire someone with the required skills needed for the success of your business.

For instance, you want to market your product online, but you don’t know how to work with SEO.

That’s your cue to hire an SEO expert.

Start by segregating all the work that can be delegated and start hiring according to the specific needs of your business.

Regardless of how well you function, you have some weak spots that restrict the business to excel.

Say you have been managing your finances all by yourself, but you tend to miss out on things that can be easily countered if you hire an expert – someone who is uniquely good at it.

Start from the top and hire people according to your needs. Here are a few roles that you are most likely to hire for immediately:

  1. Product designers and engineers: You constantly need innovations for your product to sell easily in the market, especially if your product is software. Hiring a group of engineers or product designers who are buzzing with ideas and have an eye for design will lead to faster product development.
  2. Technology expert: These are experts in the technology you use to build your offering. For instance, if you own a company that provides IT solutions and products, your technology expert is the one who knows the customisation of the technology based on the needs of your customer.
  3. Operations Manager: Operations managers are the driving force behind an organisation’s structure and organisational goals. They help in building strategy, managing schedules and budgets effectively and ensuring smooth operations of day-to-day tasks without any confusion or issues involved.
  4. Marketing manager: A business needs to have a good relationship with its customers. Hiring a marketing expert who will focus on customer reviews and feedback is a better fit. They will interact better and incorporate product development.
  5. Sales manager: Unsure about how to generate new customer leads? Hiring a sales manager is the best alternative who has expert knowledge on how to acquire new buyers and bring more money into the business.
  6. Finance managers: It is recommended to hire accountants or finance experts from outside and, if capable, then a certified financial analyst. It is crucial that you have someone who is specifically focusing on the money aspect and keeping an eye on all the details.
  7. Business development executive: You need to assess the market constantly to ensure that your business grows on the same lines. It’s best to hire an industry specialist who focuses completely on business development and can help you make better decisions.

Where To Find Your Startup’s First Employees?

With the advent of the modern world, you can hire anyone remotely without having to meet them in person. Technology has made the hiring process entirely easier if you know where to go.

Although referrals from your business connections and trustworthy people are still the best source for new hires, you can also try other free job search portals and social media to find the right hire.

Here are a few places where you can look for new hires online:

Job Boards

These are platforms that cater to the audience who are currently seeking jobs. These job websites allow job searchers to simply create profiles and add resumes which makes it easier for you to filter through results.

Many job boards like Monster.com, Ziprecruiter, Career Builder job board, Dice, Glassdoor etc., exist online, which help you find the people you actually want to hire. 

LinkedIn

You must be no stranger to the level of reach you get through LinkedIn connections and posts.

It’s a social media for professional networking where people create profiles, build connections and post about themselves. Company profiles are for connecting employees and posting about job openings.

You can easily skim through results and identify people with the required skill sets.

You can simply filter through search results to look for people with the desired skill sets. 

College And Career Services Websites

Many universities operate separate career centres and dedicated clubs for helping students find employment.

Listing job openings on these websites help you find candidates with fresh talent who are buzzing with ideas and thirst to learn.

Freelancers And Gig Work Sites

If you can’t find a permanent employee at the time, you can start with freelancers or independent contractors who work for multiple organisations at a time.

You mostly find people who have some time to spare and wish to monetise it by practising their skills. They are easy to appoint and are willing to work.

How To Look For The Best Hire?

Once you decide that you want to start hiring, you need to attract high quality and rich talent. You can look for freshers too, but the quality of work that an expert would deliver would be incomparable.

The problem is that the best talent is already consumed in existing organisations, and even if you manage to find someone willing to join you, they would probably want much higher pay.

  • Advertise – It’s important that you advertise the position well to attract more applicants and give them something to strive for. People find it easier to work with someone they follow or respect or the organisation with a greater brand value.
  • Be transparent – You need to be transparent with your employees and feed them on the bigger picture as a whole. When the founder shares the company’s vision and long term goals with its employees, it helps them to connect better and attract better talent.
  • Offer equity – When you offer equity to your early employees, it encourages your employees to stay with you longer. It reduces turnover as employees usually don’t tend to stick around with startups for long, and offering equity acts as an incentive.
  • Show growth potential – Letting potential employees know that they will be a part of the bigger picture and has a lot to contribute to their growth would attract talent. Explicitly stating it in your job description helps them decide whether they want to work with you or not.

What To Look For In Your Startup’s First Hire?

While selecting your new hires, you need to look for some qualities before making your decision.

  • Ability to produce results: Training new employees is an expensive affair and requires you to commit to a long term investment; hence you need to look for someone with the ability to produce results.
  • Long term potential: You need to ensure that you get the best out of your candidate and get someone who is loyal and will not leave in a short span of time.
  • Passionate about their work: Look for candidates who are passionate about what they do and show full enthusiasm for the sake of doing what they love, not just because of the money.
  • Required skillset: Hire candidates who fit the job description perfectly have what it takes to put their skills into action. When a candidate is self-motivated and is eager to put effort into their work, they automatically become a good fit for the organisation.
  • Ability to work in a team: You need to ensure that they are able to work in a team with other employees since, in most cases, all your employees have to work together for achieving your goals.
  • Adapt and adjust: Candidates should be able to adapt and adjust to their work environment so its easier for managers; otherwise, a lot of their time will be used up in helping them fit in
  • Team player and leadership skills: Employees often have to be in teams to work on projects together. Look for the requirements of the role and conduct interviews accordingly.
  • Experience: It isn’t always necessary that a fresher won’t be able to perform their job perfectly whereas an expert can. You need to look for potential and a spark to work while hiring and you are good to go.

What Is The Process Of Hiring New Employees?

Hiring your startup’s first employee is a big milestone for you, and you need to make sure that everything is in order.

  1. Analysis: You start by doing a work analysis which involves examining whether there is enough work to hire a full time or a part-time employee for you.
    Figure out what kind of work needs to be done and where you lack skills for which you need external support.
  2. Listing of tasks: Start by making a list of all the tasks that you can delegate to your new hires.
    Segregate them into specific job roles, so it becomes easier to assign tasks to the respective people later on.
    Write a job description mentioning the required skillset and experience required so you can find the perfect fit for the position.
  3. Finance planning: Next, you have to plan the finance requirements of your business. Analyse how much you have been spending on your business and figure out if you can afford to hire an employee or not. You need to do a cost-benefit analysis of hiring someone. Ensure that the financials meet the criteria for hiring a candidate before moving further.
    On the basis of that, decide how much you will be willing to pay them.
  4. Conduct job searches: Once the tasks are ascertained and pay scales are determined, start conducting job searches by posting job openings online on dedicated platforms.
    Look for referrals and any potential candidate from your professional network, be it past colleagues or any mutual contact.
  5. Shortlisting and interviews: When you have a handful of applications, you begin shortlisting candidates who match the job description.
    Conduct rigorous interviews to develop a deep understanding of their goals, experience and problem-solving skills.
    Select a candidate who suits the job role and the organisation best.
  6. Perform background check: Once you choose the candidate and make an offer, run background checks to confirm all information.
    After performing background checks and other business-oriented requirements, you finally chose a candidate who you think will be the right fit for your organisation.

There are a few important things to consider when you start hiring new employees. Most of this list contains legal requirements that you need to fulfil.

  • Have an employer identification number (EIN)
  • Make sure that all paperwork for keeping tax records is well done and submitted
  • After hiring, you need to report the state labour agency and fulfil the requirements of a workmen compensation insurance

Bottom-Line?

The process of hiring doesn’t end after choosing the candidates, you have to invest in their training and development. Work towards aligning their personal objectives with organisational goals and offer them something they want.

When you hire someone, you expect them to give their jobs and complete the tasks assigned to them efficiently. But it often becomes challenging for them to maintain that degree of work which is why they like to switch jobs often. Thus, you also need to focus on retaining your employees in the business.

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Hiring Your Startup's First Employee - A Guide

by Khushi Agrawal