Perfecting a hiring strategy for your startup

When starting a new business, one of the biggest leaps of faith in the growth phase is hiring your first employees. If you’re used to operating on your own or as part of a tight-knit founding group, it can be difficult to pinpoint the right time and opportunity to expand your headcount.

However, the potential to accelerate your growth is huge if you can attract the ideal candidate, matched to a suitable role. In this blog, we’ll explore all the factors that can influence your hiring decision processes, why a bigger team can be so beneficial, and how to find candidates that are a perfect fit for your organisation.

How can you judge whether it’s right to expand your team?

There are many different reasons why startups look towards hiring extra employees. Perhaps the most common is that they’ve reached the limit of what they can do as an individual (or founding group). If they get to the point where they’re burning the midnight oil, or have started to turn away work, then bringing in extra help can ensure that revenue opportunities aren’t missed.

Of course, that decision has to be made at a time when the extra revenue potential outweighs the cost of employing that person (wages, equipment, employer’s National Insurance, etc.). According to Glassdoor, the average American employer spends around $4,000 to hire a new employee, and that’s before they’re even onboarded. If they’re hired too early, then the additional costs can have a major impact on the cashflow of a small organisation.

Source: Glassdoor

Additionally, many startups hire new staff when they need access to a particular skill,  specific expertise, or simply to get advice and insight on where new revenue streams can be identified. Hiring from the top and putting a C-suite in place first is often a good place to start, as it means the right structure is in place to expand each function as necessary. 

Why growing your team can help your business

As well as revenue and skills, there are several other benefits that businesses can enjoy by expanding their workforce. For starters, having more people can foster a strong collaborative spirit and help you build a positive company culture. It also means there is someone around who can take up the slack and keep things running smoothly if you’re too busy with other projects, fall ill or want to take some time off.

Having a larger workforce can also give your organisation a better perception, a feeling of gravitas, and even an increase in its overall value – vital when making the transition from startup to large-scale enterprise. A startup will only be a startup for so long, and so the consideration of long-term hires is crucial for future growth. This can also make a big difference in strengthening relationships with external partners (such as customers and suppliers), internally with employees, and in making your business look more attractive to potential investors.

How to find new employees that are the right fit

Word of mouth and personal recommendations are highly valuable for startups when making their first hires. But on a practical level, understanding which employees to hire, when and why can be especially difficult because no two businesses are the same. 

According to Linkedin, career opportunity and advanced progression is the top initiator for a job search. This is where startups can stand out – offering candidates the chance to take advantage of a high-growth environment and the space to accelerate their careers.

Source: LinkedIn

These three tips can set you on the right track:

  • Define your ideal business culture: before starting a hiring process, make sure you establish what you’d like the overall culture of your business to be like in the long-term. This will give you a reference point against which you can assess the capabilities and values of any candidates you interview.
  • Hire employees whose goals are aligned with yours: similar to the previous point, you ideally want to hire employees who share your vision for the business and who want to contribute to its success. A great way to achieve this is through slow integration – consider hiring an advisor role or part-time contractor that can transition into a full-time role. This will ensure that they’re committed to the cause, willing to work hard and will stay motivated and productive.
  • Stay open-minded: you may well find during the hiring process that you come across a candidate who has a skill, expertise or perspective that you hadn’t considered before. Don’t stick slavishly to your preconceived plan at all costs – it’s always worth staying open to people who can add value to your organisation in different ways. Starting recruitment processes early to give both parties time to see if they’re a good fit with each other can help with this.

In summary

Hiring staff isn’t easy, and in the current climate where the shortage of talent is becoming ever more acute, it isn’t going to get easier any time soon. If you determine that you can afford to take on a new employee, that there are no other factors holding you back, and you can find one with the right skills and values, then it’s vital that you grab them with both hands.

To gain more insights on the current state of play for startups, read more of our news and blogs here.