One important thing to remember from the earliest days of your startup is that its success won’t rest solely on your own abilities. As soon as you start pulling together your first leadership team, you’ll be making big decisions about how to push your business to the next level and will be relying on others to share your vision and your passion.
You’ll probably have limited resources—and you may have limited experience—which means it’s crucial to make each hire count. You’ll need to put time and energy into finding the right people; it’s a task which will seem daunting but is essential, especially if you’re looking for rapid growth.
The long-term health of your startup could rest on the strength of its leadership team. Build a great team, and you could grow a business that skyrockets to success. So, what do you need to consider when hiring?
1. Cover all the bases
You’ll need to be brutally honest about the skills that already exist in your core team and work out where your weak spots are.
If you’re on a tight budget, it’s tempting to try to make as many inexpensive hires as you can, but this may turn out to be a false economy.
Think about it: At least one of your key hires should really be someone who has a lot of experience in your market sector, and who you can trust to give you informed advice from day one. This will be an expensive hire, but the cost of hiring an experienced, solid employee is likely to be offset by the value it brings to the business—and the potential acceleration of your operation will benefit the bottom line.
At least one of your key hires should really be someone who has a lot of experience in your market sector, and who you can trust to give you informed advice from day one. This will be an expensive hire, but the cost of hiring an experienced, solid employee is likely to be offset by the value it brings to the business—and the potential acceleration of your operation will benefit the bottom line.
2. Leverage the experience of your investors
If you already have investors on board, ask for help in determining what type of hire would be most beneficial at each stage. Your early hires may include an experienced sales manager and a marketing manager to drive sales forward and begin to build a solid customer base. Further down the line, you’ll probably want to consider a finance manager and an operations director.
Not only will your investors be able to guide you when it comes to determining your strategy for hiring your management team—they might even have contacts that would be a great fit for your business. Your investors may already have professional connections they can turn to, or, at least, have sound advice to offer on the management structure that is best suited to your organization.
Your investors may already have professional connections they can turn to, or, at least, have sound advice to offer on the management structure that is best suited to your organization.
3. Leave your ego at the door
You may be top dog, but don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you. If you insist on surrounding yourself with nodding drones who always say “yes,” you’ll miss out on the opportunity to benefit from others’ wisdom, at the expense of your company.
Instead, be the kind of CEO who recognizes what’s good for the company, and try your best to attract the talent you need to propel your business to the next level.
The best management team is one comprised of members who can offer valuable insight based on experience, not those who agree with every word you say. You need people to help you spot opportunities and problems, not to boost your ego.
4. Recognize leadership qualities
The best executive hires are those who are capable of attracting top talent themselves.
It may feel like an intangible quality, but some leaders have a knack for inspiring loyalty in others and getting the very best out of their staff. If you can spot this personality trait and hire someone who has it, your business will benefit.
It’s even more important to choose members of your leadership team who have this kind of professional charisma, as you’re much more likely to be able to put a talented team in place on a tight schedule.
5. Choose team players
Your leadership team will become the next most important group of people in your life after your own family. In any startup, these are the people who will become your confidants and captains; they will challenge and support your decisions, help you make better decisions, and co-pilot your venture.
You’ll probably find you spend a lot of time together—often during stressful periods—so it’s important that they not only bring with them the skills and experience you need but that their contribution helps the company become more than a sum of its parts.
Choose people who complement each other, and who you’ll be happy to consider your surrogate family.
6. Hire people who fit
There will be times when you’ll be tempted to go with the easiest (rather than the best) fit.
At times like these, try to remember that your key hires will contribute much more than their job description, and that the wrong decision could endanger your startup. Be patient, and insist on the right fit.
Think about the culture of your company—the way you operate, what your goals are and how people interact with each other every day. A good management team will map onto the prevailing culture and enhance it, increasing efficiencies and improving job satisfaction; a bad cultural fit could pull it apart.
7. Think beyond the salary
You’ll need to offer a healthy salary to attract great people—but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that’s the only incentive that counts.
Think, instead, in terms of the opportunity you’re providing. Will your new hires be working on exciting projects with talented people in a company that values and rewards hard work and innovation? The best candidates will check the salary and look beyond for the opportunity to work for an outstanding company in which they can build a rewarding career.
8. Be the kind of company you want to work for
You don’t have to follow the corporate herd.
Too many startups rely on traditional employment models that may have served companies well in the past, but don’t address the highly competitive and incredibly mobile talent pool of today.
You will only beat your competitors to the punch if you can offer a better proposition with outstanding prospects. If you can create a “honeypot” business that attracts top talent because it’s one of the best places to be, you’ll always have your pick of the professionals.
Be innovative, create a workplace where effort and creativity are valued, pay people what they deserve, give staff the opportunity to thrive, and you’ll build a company that’s the envy of its competitors.