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5 tips to hiring the right people for your startup

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 01 November 2019

Your employees make your business. Like a working machine, your hires are the gears that keep it running; making them the utmost priority when building a startup.

In analysing 101 failed startups, CB Insights compiled the twenty top reasons for their decline. “Not having the right team” came third (comprising 23% of most common causes), just under financial loss and lack of market need. 

Having unique, clever ideas is vital, but it’s the right people who bring them to existence. As stated by American businessman (and CEO of Honeywell International Inc.), Lawrence Bossidy, “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people – not on strategies."

Below, SkillsTalk discuss the top five tips for hiring your ideal start-up team, avoiding future creative and monetary missteps. 

How do you hire the right people for your startup?

  1. Know your exact business needs and values
  2. Know where to look
  3. Hire beyond skill (and with the right interview process)
  4. Diversity is key
  5. Have a long-term vision

1. Know your exact business needs and values.

When hunting down those first few hires, you’ll firstly need to define your mission. What is the purpose of your start-up? This is the message you’ll use to inspire others to work with you; the “big picture” goals that’ll resonate with your candidates and have them jump onboard. Focus on those with the same passion for your business’ core values – this way, you’ll build a team who share the same drive and direction, achieving the company culture and overall vision you’re after.

Once you’ve determined what these values are, have clear, specified job descriptions for the roles you need. As a startup with limited capital, you’ll want to decide on these carefully; considering how each can play a vital part in your overall business structure. 

This process will help you identify your skills gaps and set the expectations you have for your ideal team.  
Having a clear, firm criteria of specific skillsets and worker values will not only narrow your search, but also will help you find the best employees to drive your vision forward.

2. Know where to look.

social media networking concept

The next step in recruitment is to know where to find these top-quality hires. This involves stepping up your marketing, sales, and networking game, as you’ll likely be prowling both offline and online sources to draw in these hidden talents.

Startup founders are often advised to start with their own network, connecting with old colleagues or friends. In an interview with Business News Daily; HR consultant of KIS Finance, Sue Andrews, suggested that word-of-mouth or personal recommendations are effective first steps. Your initial members should be people you trust; as they have the greatest impact on your startup, being the first to launch your ideas off the ground.  

Of course, don’t forget the power of social media. With 79% of Australians being social media users, and 64% of consumers more likely to trust a brand with a positive online presence – take advantage of the platforms at your disposal. Take time to publicly market or connect with potential recruits on popular channels such as LinkedIn or Facebook.  

Advertising on other online sources, such as job boards, trade websites, and university careers websites is also a great way of attracting target candidates. With 54% of job-seekers browsing online job sites for new opportunities, you may just find your ideal hire among the bunch. 

3. Hire beyond skill (and with the right interview process).

Sure, industry experience and degrees are an advantage. But well-skilled teams can quickly fall apart with clashing personalities, poor work ethic, or issues with emotional intelligence. Technical prowess can be trained, but passion, character, and soft skills (such as creativity and collaborative abilities) are difficult to instil

In fact, in a study by LeadershipIQ of new startup hires, only 11% of those who failed were due to skill deficiency, with a majority failing due to lacking motivation, temperament problems, and an unwillingness to learn. 

In your recruitment process, it’s therefore vital to look beyond credentials and take values and persona into account. Many achieve this by carrying out more “behavioural” interviews or asking more personality-based questions. As suggested by Business News Daily, these could include queries on their personal hobbies or interests, their future career goals, the challenges that drive them, and their views on a work-life balance. 

4. Diversity is key.

diversity concept

You can’t spur innovation through an echo chamber. With everyone agreeing to the same concepts, perspectives, and overall approach, there’s no check and balance; leading to potential oversight of weak decisions and lack of inventive ideas.

A study by Techstars reported that while 72% of startup founders deem diversity as important, only 12% put it into practice. As a result, such businesses tend to miss out on the greater potential for creativity – and thus, revenue – diverse teams are known to bring.

Acknowledging employees of various skillsets and creative perspectives are therefore critical to the success of your business.

Though “diversity” doesn’t have to stop at technical skill. Hiring workers from various cultures, genders, and ethnic backgrounds also creates an environment of broad ideas – encouraging your team out of their comfort zone and driving innovative development.

A choice as simple as gender diversity has proven to benefit business results. In a study conducted by Credit Suisse, net income growth for female team members averaged 14% over a six-year period, compared to the 10% for those with no women on board. 

Interacting with people from varying backgrounds can bring different viewpoints to the table, creating open-minded, inclusive workplace culture.

5. Have a long-term vision.

Finally, make sure you play for the long game. While it’s true that 34% of small businesses fail by their third year, this doesn’t have to be part of your vision. Plan for long-term success and sustainability, laying out your specific requirements to get there.

Part of this is building a team with your entire company structure in mind; all the key, fundamental roles that make up a thriving, profitable business. Marketing expert Neil Patel suggests these four, commonly integral roles in a company: marketing and sales, product design and development, research and development, and finance. 

These may differ depending on your business goals, so take time to identify the experts you’ll need to run your company. Don’t settle for “available” or opportunistic hires – ensure your first few are of quality. They not only set the tone for your company’s future; they’ll also prevent high financial costs from “bad hire” turnover. 

Ready to start your own business?

Getting your startup off the ground is no easy task – but the right people can help turn your vision into reality. 

With Upskilled’s courses in business and management, you can gain greater insight into the crucial marketing, financial, administrative, and leadership practices that make a successful startup company. Best of all, Upskilled’s nationally-recognised training is delivered 100% online, allowing you to study at your own pace and schedule. Get started on your entrepreneurial ventures, and enquire on a course today. 
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