Wondering who to hire for your first startup? Start here
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. And that first startup can be especially challenging. But if you’re at the point where you’re wondering who to hire for your first startup, congratulations! That means you’ve already put a ton of work into the venture and made good progress.
Hiring your first employee is a big moment for any entrepreneur, even if it’s your 10th startup, not your first. You’ll want to make sure you can afford a new employee, and that they’ll be a good fit for your company. These insights will help things go smoothly.
1. Start with the numbers
To ensure that hiring your first startup employee won’t crash your fledgling company, check your books, and then check them again. You’ll need to consider how much you can reasonably afford in salary and whether you’ll provide benefits, says Brandi Koskie, who has been involved in several tech and creative startups, including Clover Partners. You may also consider offering startup equity for your first employees.
Don’t forget to consider the other costs associated with hiring your first employee — recruiting, payroll taxes, equipment, and training – all of which get your first startup employee up and running.
2. Find someone who shares your vision
When you’re hiring for your first startup, look for an employee who wants to be a part of your business and who buys into your idea and dream, Koskie says. You want to find someone who’s prepared to give a lot of themselves and their time for the job, knowing that the biggest tangible rewards may not come for years.
Traits to look for include being a team player with strong collaboration skills and a sense of “urgent curiosity,” says Jessica Salans, co-founder of a startup publishing imprint, Coralstone Press. You’ll need a savvy and alert team that can look for opportunities as the business forges its own path.
3. Assess candidates carefully
Hiring your first employee involves spending time with candidates, Koskie says, and it’s a good idea to take more time than what your standard interview allows.
“You may have time constraints for how soon you need to make a hire, but consider bringing potential new hires on in a contract capacity before you make the job offer,” Koskie says. For example, you could pay them to work on just one project before bringing them on in a more permanent capacity.
“That way you can see how they work,” Koskie says. “Are they disruptive or are they contributing in a meaningful way? If you have concerns about their skills, you can put them to the test. You can start to see how they respond to pressure, or how above and beyond they’re willing to go.” This also helps the employee assess whether or not they want to work for you.
4. Look for a partner
That first startup employee can make a world of difference in the growth of your company. “I always have a very clear idea of what that first employee will do, whether it’s development, marketing, or just plain customer support,” says Dean Levitt, founder of Teacup Analytics.
“Hiring them to fulfill tasks or a role that the founder currently does successfully but doesn’t have enough time for is perfect. That means the founder can train, manage and judge the work accurately.” Think carefully about which tasks and responsibilities would be best to hand off to a new employee while you focus on other areas.
5. Make sure you like them
Your first startup employee will likely be someone you’ll work with all the time — and it can be a big change. Look for someone who’s easy to spend time with and who doesn’t get on your nerves.
“I consider personality to be more important than expertise,” Levitt says. “You’ll need to work closely together, so getting along is vital to keeping yourself motivated during the rough times.”
Yes, technical skills are important. But don’t underestimate the value of assessing each candidate’s soft skills as well.
6. Read up on your legal obligations
Hiring a new employee always comes with a whole host of legal responsibilities. Before you dive into the recruitment process, read up on everything from tax liability and employee benefits to legal interview questions and background checks. It’s better to be prepared than learn these lessons the hard way.
Get help with your first hire
Figuring out who to hire for your first startup can be very exciting. However, you’d probably also like to devote most of your time to running your business and helping it grow. Save time and frustration by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions where you’ll receive expert recruiting advice and the latest hiring trends.