Hiring the right people to work for your startup can be a tricky process for a number of reasons, especially as you have limited resources, specifically finances and time.
You need to make sure you find the right people for the job as quickly as possible, or “smart hire”.
When your team is very small, for example you have five employees, each person represents 20% of your start up’s culture and performance. Every person counts, which is why it’s imperative you make the right decisions.
Initially, your key hires need to be enough to help you produce your Minimum Viable Product. You need to hire people whose strengths can help build a great team and whose skills compliment your own, and those of your co-founders.
For example, if you are strong on the tech side, you need to find someone with business development or sales and marketing skills and vice-versa.
Let's take a look at some key hires...
Every startup was founded by someone – perhaps even a couple of “someones”. If you alone are the founder of your business, it’s likely that you’re dedicated to making it work, grow, and be successful. At least in the very beginning, it’s done to you to get the startup started up.
Hopefully, the same can be said when it comes to co-founders, and you both (or all) feel that same dedication and drive to build something great. For the purposes of this post, I’ll write as if you have co-founders.
One of the most important things to do at this stage, before the business goes any further, is to evaluate the qualities you and your co-founders have.
Once you’ve decided that you are the right people to head/lead the business and unlock its high growth potential, it’s time to divide the responsibilities between you, based on your skill set.
As the core element of your startup, it is up to you to define the culture of your company and begin to build the structure which will take you forward.
The aim of the first hires you will need to make are dependent on the skills you and your co-founders have.
It’s necessary to fill in the gaps. For example, if you are strongly skilled in the tech side of things, you’ll need to hire people who are talented at selling the product you’re building, who market your business correctly and to the right people, and those who are able to manage the community your business is building.
Obviously, the hires you can make at this early stage are often dictated by the finances available. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to hire the best people for the job. Your start up deserves the best start.
The “Dream Team”
Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice the key hires a little differently; instead of looking for skill sets to fill job roles (a developer, a communities manager, and digital marketing executive), he suggests focusing on personality types. In his article “These 4 Personalities Make Up Your Startup 'Dream Team'”, Fornes suggested that killer teams are made up of a mixture of these personalities:
The Matrix Thinker
A creative problem solver with big ideas. The type of person who can “think outside the box” and is able to build revolutionary products and processes by connecting seemingly-unrelated concepts.
Someone who is extremely talented in one area (for example Marketing) and can execute related campaigns and strategies with few problems. Usually they are intelligent and are often, skilled writers, artists, and engineers.
Their prolific nature means that they could most likely become your best creative/marketing content producers.
A super-confident individual who believes in your product, wholeheartedly. The type of person who is great at communicating and able to read the needs and wants of potential customers correctly.
Champs are usually best-suited to roles in sales, but can also be successful in management and executive-level positions.
This person is usually ideal in a customer support role as they always put the needs of the customer, the company, and often their co-workers ahead of their own.
As team players, they will usually give their all to the business, working longer than their contracted hours.
Although perhaps not critical in the same way as “active” employees (people in your office), advisors are invaluable to your businesses.
Some of the types of advisors your business would benefit from are: someone who is well connected and comfortable making introductions between you and potential strategic partners; someone who will allow their name to be associated with your business, whilst not necessarily being directly involved with the everyday running of the start up; and someone who knows your sector inside and out.
Whilst it’s not necessary to have advisors is in place from the beginning, it is something you need to be putting serious thought into as you search for the right candidates to approach.
Having the right advisors join your team can open up a lot of doors for you as you progress along your growth journey.
As your business grows, so too will your team. When your team is small, it's relatively easy to see how engaged your employees are. However, this can become challenging as your team expands.