3 Things Every Founder Should Consider Before Adding to the Team
Like any growing business, you’ve realized quickly that you can not do it all. So you have arrived at this place of expansion that most of us hope for: the time to hire your first employee.
But, like anything, with a new step forward comes trepidation.
Where do i find people to hire? How do I ensure my new hires are a good culture fit? What do I pay my new hire?
These questions plague all of us. But the answers in what makes SMART hiring decisions for an entrepreneurial team are usually found outside these obvious questions.
Whenever I am considering expansion in my business or in those of my client’s, I ask them to consider the following options before they take it to the next step.
Lesson ONE: Growing Businesses Need Effective Consultants and Less Junior Hires
As a start up, you are at the breaking point. Business is picking up, the founding team is overworked with early mornings, nights and weekends, and you have to get a team in place - yesterday.
What do most companies do in this situation? They rush out and try to add a permanent member to their team. But the thing is, what they can afford to hire and what they need are two different ends of the spectrum entirely.
Here is a real world example of how an ad agency was approaching a new marketing hire.
I was networking with another agency owner who is looking for a marketing person for the agency itself. The President was BURNT OUT and wanted a marketing guru to delegate ALL the internal agency marketing tasks to. She was looking to say goodbye to the agency content strategy, sales and web copy, video and testimonial creation and media calendar of PR opportunities and outreach.
The catch? She could pay an entry level salary with with the promise of unlimited commission.
Do you really think hiring a low level marketing person will grow your business quickly?
Sure, there is a commission, and lots of it…an attempt to inspire greater returns. But no commission alone can make up for experience. And if you are looking for a delegation model, you are better of hiring a more senior team to create and launch a successful marketing strategy and process, then hire a junior team to keep it going.
An outsourced marketing, tech or sales team can be your secret weapon in fast and smart growth. The world now allows for ALL to hire experts, folks we could NEVER afford in a full-time capacity but can access with the beauty of a consulting relationship.
This year alone, I hired these roles:
…and NONE of them required benefits or a long-term commitment because they are consultants. So i get the best of both worlds - access to the best talent, at a fraction of the cost.
When are you going to stop thinking full time hires is the only way to grow? You can get 10x the value at the same cost with the RIGHT outsourced team.
Lesson TWO: In Start Up Hiring, Always Require a Trial Period Before a Permanent Hire
The beauty of start ups is that we can see growth quickly. The entire future potential of a company can change in hours, days or weeks. And, because of that, our hiring needs often flex and wane with more variation than in the more established companies that have fewer ebbs and flows.
One rock-solid rule I use in my business and my clients is this one.
Never hire a permanent employee or consultant to a small and growing business without a test period. NEVER.
We all know from the masters of the industry like Harvard Business Review that one bad egg in a company does more damage than a handful of superstars.
When I hire, I give potential partners one assignment before I spent more than $2k on services or offer any long-term job commitment.
The thing is that referrals, portfolios and references do not make you immune from an ineffective hiring decision.
And removing someone after you hire them from a small company can shake the very soul of the company.
So here is what I know to be true:
Need a graphic designer? Give them a non-mission critical project first.
Want a writer? Have them rewrite something that already exists (without telling them) so you can get a feel for their style.
Need a sales rep? Make them attempt to sell something to someone on the team, without knowledge it is a test.
Every single one of the situations that did not work out for both me, and my clients, would have been avoided if we had gone through a trial period.
This works for employees too.
When I hired my first full-time employee, I made the contract valid for three months, so we could both see if it was a fit. I also had an out if our finances changes and I saw a need for a different skill set.
Lesson THREE: Small Businesses Can’t Afford to Hire in an Emergency
The thing that most companies do is that they wait to expand their team until is a mission critical.
Making decisions in a rush is the surest way that you will be disappointed with the results.
Profitable companies are always looking beyond the time horizon of where they are today.
How can you put this thought into action? Let’s say your business has a graphic design need. Try a few resources and look for who delivers the best design first. Do not offer permanent contracts during the test period, but be sure the prospects understand the potential for more work in the future.
By the time you need a permanent solution, you now have options:
Predictable monthly contracting assessment/retainer
We often chose to keep our teams as hourly employees or project-based teams. This helps both of us keep our autonomy as business owners and ensures that our needs change we can easily the team structure.
Before you hire anyone in your growing business, I’d ask you to consider the following:
Is a consultant a better fit than a full-time hire?
How can I try this employee out before they are offered a longer-term assignment?
Am I thinking ahead to my needs in 3-6 months in the future and can this resource meet them if I have a higher volume?
Do you have hiring hacks for start ups? I’d love to hear them.