“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was - and still is - the most important thing we do.”
- Marc Benioff, Founder, Chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce
Hiring is a difficult process, hiring your first employees, even more so. As an early-stage startup, you have to make a lot of decisions. Your first 10 employees will decide your company’s growth, your company culture and set the way forward.
This guide will help you understand how to hire your first 10 employees along with the right approach and what you should expect after you’ve successfully started recruiting employees for your startup.
How To Hire Your First 10 Employees
1. Set the Right Goals
When you’re figuring out how to hire your first 10 employees, it’s crucial that you begin the process by setting the right goals.
Recruiting employees is an expensive process. As a startup, you have limited resources in terms of money and efforts.
Small business owners spend around 40% of their working hours on tasks that do not generate income, such as hiring. Because recruitment can cost a lot, many early-stage startups usually delay hiring new employees.
You have to consider the costs beyond their salaries. For instance, you have to invest in providing employee benefits such as paid-time-off, a comprehensive healthcare plan, etc.
There’s also training involved and according to research, it will take 8 to 26 weeks for an employee to achieve full productivity after they join a new company. This means that you’re essentially losing money till your new hire is fully acquainted with your organization.
While you are setting a strategy for your recruitment process, it’s essential to have some flexibility as well. It depends on the funding stage and whether or not your needs will change during or after the funding rounds are over.
2. Sell Your Vision
Ask yourself a question: ‘Why would someone want to join your startup?’ When you are hiring your first employees, you must remember that joining a startup comes with many risks and that’s why you must sell your vision to your future hires as well.
The primary reason why employees join an early-stage startup is that they believe in the vision or because they believe in you. However, you also have to be realistic while doing so. While you are sharing your vision for the future of your company, it’s crucial that you also set the right expectations.
Similarly, you must also continue doing this once they’ve accepted your offer.
Remember that when someone is job-hunting, they’re having conversations with multiple companies. It’s important to convey company updates, news, etc. till their joining date.
3. Consider Your Culture
Why do most people start a startup? They want to innovate and bring something new to the table. If that’s the case, you will find it difficult to find someone with relevant experience in your field. Let’s take the example of Uber. It’s safe to say that Uber was the first of its kind to introduce ride-sharing in the market. Since it is a unique startup like most startups are, how can you find a candidate that has vast experience in a field that didn’t exist before?
For this reason, it’s important to hire for skills, rather than experience. If you want to hire a CFO, ask yourself what skills does a CFO have. Do they have the right problem-solving and project management skills? Do they have leadership experience? When you’re hiring, look for the answers to these questions and hire the right candidate.
Similarly, you need to hire employees who fit and set your company culture. An underrated skill during the hiring process is your intuition. If you aren’t 100% happy about a prospective hire, go with your gut.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with early-stage hiring is to hire out of desperation. Many candidates check all the boxes but aren’t a culture fit for your startup and that’s okay. When you’re figuring out how to hire your first 10 employees, you have to put in that extra effort to find the right fit for your startup.
4.Don’t Forget About Onboarding
As an early-stage startup, everything is usually a work in progress. You might have nailed the hiring process but it doesn’t stop there.
Onboarding your employees is just as important. The right onboarding process sets the precedent for all future employees and ensures that everyone has the same onboarding experience. Design a process where you set the right expectations and set the foundation for your company’s culture.
5. Don’t Stop Hiring
One of the more distinct aspects of a startup is unpredictability. You never know when your startup is going to blow up and take off.
If you’re waiting till the last minute to begin your hiring process, not only will your existing workforce be burdened but you’ll also fall behind on many growth opportunities. Inbound applications rarely come to early-stage startups. For this reason, you should always be on the lookout for crucial positions like sales or customer service.
By keeping these points in mind, figuring out how to hire your first 10 employees becomes much more organized. Remember that recruiting is a dynamic process, even if you do all the right things, you might make some mistakes and hire the wrong fit.
If you make the wrong call, don’t be afraid to admit it and let go of the wrong people. As a founder, it is your responsibility to lead your team and ensure that you are making the right decisions for your team as a whole.