You've put in the time, worked your way through your business model, sorted out your funding, and now you've got yourself a start-up. Well done! Now comes the hard part — building your team. You may already have one or two dedicated employees who have helped with some of the legwork so far, but as your business grows, so too will this small team. At this stage, more than any other, who you hire will have a massive impact on the trajectory of your start-up, and finding the right people is essential for your success. It's a daunting task, we hear you. Here are some cost-effective, start-up friendly tips to help you find the best candidates.
Be Attractive — Build your brand.
First of all, who are you? As your company is still in its developmental stages, there's no culture or brand for job-seekers to buy into. This is where your own personal brand comes into play. You, as the founder, set the tone for what working in your company will be like, so let people get to know you. This can take several forms, like a personal blog that's easily accessible or a well-considered profile on job sites such as LinkedIn. Remember, everything you do or say at this stage represents you and your company, so spend some time looking into your online presence. Social media can effectively let people know what your affiliations are and what you stand for, but be careful to keep it professional.
As important as your online presence is, don't neglect real-world connections. As the business world adapts to remote working, the human element is more critical now than ever before. Events and fundraisers are great ways to get out there and show potential talent and customers what a great opportunity you've got waiting for them. You may worry that as a small fish, there's no way you can be as attractive as the more prominent companies in your field. For example, if you're a tech start-up, what edge can you possibly have over big companies like Google? Indeed, you may not be able to offer the same salary and benefits as a more established company, so play to your strengths. The best candidates won't necessarily go for the more extensive paycheck. Smart people are constantly looking for a challenge, a company they can grow with, and that's where you fit the bill.
It's all about Networking
Most start-ups find their initial pool of employees the same way — through friends, family, past co-workers and old friends from university. But don't expect to dive into long-lost friendships and fish out fantastic recommendations. Be a genuine part of the community you hope to tap into. Networks are like plants — you get the most out of them by giving them your time and attention. You can start off by getting involved in meet-ups, going for a reunion or two and making regular appearances at conferences.
Another great way to attract people to your start-up is through the employees that you already have. Showcase them on your website and ask them to help get the word out about opportunities with your company. Host company barbeques and encourage your employees to bring guests. Employees can be great marketing tools, and if someone is happy working for you, they'll tell their friends. How you engage with your employees and market your product speaks volumes about the company you're trying to build.
Be mindful, though, of the potential for bias. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together, and it's possible that your workforce may become homogenised. Get out of that bubble by actively asking around for fresh recommendations, and make sure to look outside your network now and again.
Hire people who can build teams
Be on the lookout for people who have their own personal brand and experienced candidates who have their own network to tap into. Your network will run dry eventually, so consider sitting down with your employees and diving into their online networks. Referred employees will reduce your hiring cost drastically, and on top of that, job satisfaction and retention rates tend to be higher. Look into setting up a referral program for your current employees and give incentives for successful hires.
Hire constantly and consistently
If all this sounds like hard work, that's because it is, at least in the beginning. But once you get into the hiring/expanding mindset, it all becomes routine. The pay-out cannot be understated. The more you engage the networks around you, the more people you meet, and the more circles you come into contact with. Most people know someone who's unhappy in their current job or have a family member who's recently graduated and looking for their next beginning, and that is where you come into the picture. A keen freshman who's passionate could be the driving force behind your company's growth, and a frustrated executive who has been passed up yet again for a well-deserved promotion may have a wealth of experience your young company needs. People hardly recommend other people unless they have confidence in their character or ability. As much as your team's size matters, the individual's quality can make all the difference between failure and success.