How To Hire the Best Employees For Your Young Startup

by / ⠀Startup Advice / May 10, 2012

Hiring your first staff as a young entrepreneur and business owner is crucial to determining how far you go with growing your company. You have certain challenges as a young business owner looking to hire great talent to work for you. The earlier you know of these challenges and how to overcome them the better for you.

What possibly could be the challenges you will likely face as you go to get the best possible hands for your startup;

1. You Will Not Be Competitive Enough Financially:

Unless you come across a generous investor at the early stages of starting your company chances are that you may not have the resources to offer the sort of wages to attract real top talents to your startup. That is a problem you should be aware of. Still you will not be doing your company any good by settling for low quality workers that you can pay. There must be strategies to wriggle through this difficulty and we will definitely be looking at them in this article.

2. Your Location Matters:

I know because there are places you will struggle to get good staff. I started my young technology firm less than a year ago in a part of my country that was and is still a little bit behind technologically. In as much as I and my partner saw an opportunity there to bring in quality ICT services, break new ground and reap the rewards we soon discovered how difficult it was to get good lieutenants with the right skills to help us build the company.

For our job adverts we mostly got applications from persons who lived far from our business location. We don’t have the financial muscle yet to help them relocate or even pay them the kind of wages they will be expecting. The few applications we received from people who stay within the town where our business is located obviously do not have the skills and exposure we require. We found ourselves in a quagmire. How are we negotiating that challenge? I will try to explain what we have and are doing to overcome that and i hope it becomes useful to several other young business owners who are facing the same challenges.

3. What Qualities to Look For:

It takes several years of experience in recruiting to know what exactly to look for in a potential worker. It is your work to get the best possible talent with the resources you have to help you grow your young business. So before you hire make sure you know exactly what you need from the suitable candidate. List out the job requirements and skills needed. That way you can measure and grade all candidates you interview on a scale and pick the ones who possess the most qualities you need.

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How Does a Young, Inexperienced Entrepreneur Get The Best Hands for His Young Startup?

Recruiting is one of the aspects of being an entrepreneur that I have found I do not enjoy so much. You have to be on top of your game to hire somebody you can work with and someone you can trust to deliver the quality you expect on a steady basis.

So when you started your business it was probably just yourself and your partner. Now you grow gradually and you need to hire an extra programmer, a secretary or even a sales officer. Here are steps and strategies to help you recruit the best possible hands for your young business.

Get the Details and Expectations Ironed out: Before you ever put out that word or advert that you are looking for so and so staff get a piece of paper and identify the type of job which you wish to hire. What job title are you going to say you need? Job titles can be very important for several reasons;

– For instance when we needed just a receptionist who would also be expected to act as a secretary for us we put out an advert seeking ‘a Front Desk Officer/Web Administrator.” We got applications from several candidates who obviously thought they would be working at a job that paid higher than what we could pay. The job title gave a wrong perception and attracted the wrong candidates who obviously were far more experienced than we needed then.

– A job title conveys the importance the prospective employer attaches to the job. Some titles will attract under qualified persons while certain titles will draw the attention of the kind of people you need.

Next, list out the details and qualifications as clearly as possible:

Do You Need a Full Time Staff or Will a Part Time Worker Do For The Job You Have in Mind: Before you waste money hiring a full time staff for your young business ask yourself if you can afford to pay someone a fixed salary every month for something you could probably get another person to do for a fraction of the cost. Some jobs certainly do not need a smart high earning worker to do. As a young business there are certain tasks you can hire an intern to do for you part time. That way you only get to pay them when they do something for you.

If you rush to hire a full time worker for some tasks you end up paying them when they do something for you and also when they stay idle and that sucks. I made that mistake with my first hire and I had to fire her. She was practically earning money for doing nothing most of the time. I looked to hire a student intern who helped me do the periodic tasks for which I had paid through my nose earlier on. While I don’t advise that you hire interns and part timers for sensitive, steady jobs that need qualified hands there are tasks for which you should not go into incurring fixed expenses in form of salaries for your young company. For a list of tasks for which you can hire a part time staff see here.

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What to Do When You Really Need a Top Quality Employee That You Cannot Pay: As a young entrepreneur there are times when you may need to hire a much experienced employee such as a programmer or worker with very scarce technical skills. You may not be able to pay the type of wages such a staff will obviously demand. In such situations you may be looking at a possibility of tying him in with an equity offer. However this will be in a case where your startup is working on something you believe will be very profitable in future. You will also have to make sure the targeted employee buys into the dream that what you both will be working on will turn into something big and profitable enough for him to accept the equity and little or nothing in form of a regular salary.

In my startup company we needed a very talented programmer and we tried hiring the guy who we had earlier outsourced the design of the startup site to. He came in with some heavy wage demands that we obviously couldn’t pay. Neither could we continue to pay him or any other programmer high fees to work on the startup on a contract basis. We had no money to continue that and even if we had that will mean running risk of someone taking your idea and practically running away with it.

We had little or no options. We offered him equity and in return for that he would work with us full time for a small salary that we could afford. He demanded a higher stake and salary as well. But we could not meet his demands and negotiations dragged on. The startup suffered as a result and we kind of left things stagnant with that startup. We currently have plans to redevelop the startup on a new model and we hope to get the kind of money to attract the quality of developers we need.

I tell this story to illustrate how difficult it is to hire an exceptional talent that you sorely need when you cannot pay them. Offer a reasonable percentage of equity and if you are not yet taking salary as the owner, founder or co-founder then offer them equity with no salary until the company turns profitable.

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If the candidate does not believe in your startup enough to come in for the equity then there’s no need pushing the matter. In our case it was clear the developer didn’t believe our idea was worth sacrificing for.

Advertise Creatively: You may want to come up with new creative and cost effective ways to advertise the job vacancies in your young company. These days as a young entrepreneur you do not need to pay to advertise your jobs in the newspapers. If you are looking at hiring tech, creative people your best bet will be to use popular job boards. Many of them accept free job postings but when you wish your vacancies to have the best exposure you can pay small sums for a featured listing.

Creative recruiting has no hard and fast rules. You just have to identify the type of candidates your company needs and go after them right at the places where you are most likely to get them.

Interviewing Prospective Candidates:

One mistake most young entrepreneurs make is to assume they have read all they need to know about the job interviewing process. The truth is there is more to a job interview than just asking the right questions. You have also to watch out for the right signals from the prospective candidates. Most times a candidate’s attitude during interviews will tell you a whole lot more about them than their answers. Some candidates will give you all the right answers they have been trained to provide during interview situations so you will need the ability to look beyond the answers and look at the characters of the persons you interview.

Get an Experienced Mentor or Adviser to Sit in During Interviews:

You can brief your mentor, adviser if you have one and have him or her sit in during interviews. From experience I have discovered that the behaviour of candidates during interviews when they are faced with just one young person differ from when they see at least two persons sitting on the other side of the room. Having a more experienced interviewer or business executive will add to your interview process as he will help ask the right questions and more importantly gauge and judge the response and attitudes of the various candidates.

Finally though there is no sure way to hire the right employee and there is no guarantee that you will hire excellent employees it is important that you maintain your enthusiasm and you come across as a very competent and ambitious CEO. That will help you attract the top talent that your startup needs.

NairaBrains is a unique business information platform that publishes cutting edge business and technology news, ideas and innovations. Paul Eze is the Managing Editor.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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