You’ve either recently opened a startup or are pondering the prospect of starting your own business. But how do you get your first workers in, interviewed, sifted through, and on the job? It can be a little tricky hiring those first few employees, so here are some tips to ease the process. Regardless if you’ve just launched an entirely new start-up or are looking to buy a business, these tips can help your business through those first transitional stages.
Small business credentials for your small business future. Hire those with small-business credentials, not those who were previously employed by big businesses. Oftentimes strict procedures and rigid responsibilities create a situation in which big business employees aren’t able to “think outside the box” as well as those who have experienced the unpredictable road of a startup. Those workers with small business experience don’t require hand-holding and are not molded to perform an inelastic set of obligations. The best employees are the ones who can solve problems outside of their comfort zone and can get through a quest even without the formal training for that task. My favorite quote (derived from one of my favorite Will Ferrell movies, Semi-Pro) is everyone does everything for the early stages of a small business.
Consultants or part-time contractors. “Try out” the position. See if the activity is necessary for daily functioning of the company and complete a cost/benefit analysis to decide if hiring a full-timer is worth the cost of that worker’s salary relative to the company’s gross profits. Decide whether the employee will be busy 8 hours of the day contributing directly to the business or if the job can be done in a few hours and the remainder of the day is spent completing filler tasks. Of course any startup will have its own share of filler tasks, but once the dust settles and the company is 6-9 months old, consider filler tasks more of a burden than necessity.
Network, network, network. Ask friends, current employees, and others within the industry if they’ve heard of anyone that may fit the job description. It’s not an easy task to find workers that not only have great working attitudes but are also qualified for the job. Get your company name out there as much as possible. There may be that perfect person for a specific job you need filled, but if that person isn’t reached out to in some way you may have just lost money hiring the wrong candidate.
Online job searches. Don’t resort to Careerbuilder and expect 3 or 4 really good candidates. Expect hundreds of resumes of many, many candidates which may be qualified or unqualified. Know you’ll have to sort through all these, so perhaps resort to a niche site and one that focuses on a specific field or industry.
Copy your competitors. There is no shame replicating certain procedures of your competition. I say if a business is successful and you desire the same, heck, why not imitate that company? You can avoid many of the experiential mistakes that that company underwent and can help save precious time when finding potential employees. Did your competitor mainly dive into the local pool of talent, or did they hire head hunters to do the task for them? If so, what agency was utilized?
Last but not least, what to look for in an employee. Everyone has the ability to work hard but do your workers possess the intangibles that cannot be verified simply by looking over a resume. I’ll delve into this aspect a bit more in a later article, but here is a brief rundown of what makes some of the best and most enjoyable employees to be around.
- Positive – Are these people happy to be working for this company and with co-workers? Even if they truly aren’t, they can at least play the part and not bring down the rest of the office with negativity.
- Timely – Do they get to work 10 minutes late, are they constantly missing work, always sick, etc?
- Independent – Do they need to ask questions at every turn or can they function by themselves and produce quality results?
- Work well with others – Are they cooperators and able to get along with co-workers, whether they like them or not? Are they vocal and voice concerns to various questions or concerns they may have to a certain project/company procedure
Employees reflect upon the overall business. The initial stages of starting a business can be quite difficult, and hiring individuals who are multi-talented and able to complete a number of different tasks can make all the difference in setting your small business on the right path.
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