If you’re a Founder, this might sound like a familiar scene. You’re time poor. You’ve been planning weekly objectives, selling your product, managing existing customer issues, attending networking events, working with your co-founder on the product back-log, brushing up on new regulations in your sector and managing your team who are giving it everything to help make a stamp on the market. On top of that you’re updating with current investors, and altering your pitch deck as it’s nearly time to raise again. And it’s only Monday.
So when the time comes to hire, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, or that you have too many priorities already, understandably so.
Recruiting is like any other business capability. The more effort and time you invest into it, the better returns it delivers. If it’s always reactionary or a quick fix, then you’ll get quick fix results. If it’s seen as a way to consistently improve and grow your business, then it’s a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Here are a few ideas to consider when you’re thinking of hiring.
Identify what this hire needs to achieve to be a success for your business, then work backwards from that to define the position and person you need. The context might be a replacement hire, or it could be growth. But if you’re not clear on what you need, or at least have a North Star, then you may find yourself drifting from interview to interview with no end result.
This should be an evolving process and never a one-size fits all. Just because you hired that type of Sales Exec or Software Engineer a year ago, doesn’t mean you need that this time round. Your company processes, team dynamic and requirements are always changing, so you’re hiring should reflect that. Then when you meet the right candidate, you’ll know they tick the boxes.
Taking the example of the typical Founder’s day I gave earlier, it’s easy to see how managing a hiring process can take a back seat, or slip through the cracks entirely of a 16 hour work day. There’s only so long that notepads, spreadsheets and your inbox can sustain an effective hiring process.
There’s plenty of CRMs, ATS’ and free to use recruitment tools designed to manage small scale hiring. Investigate them and implement the ones that help. This can then be your source of info for future hires, streamlining your process and handing over to any Talent Acquisition hires you eventually make. Starting from scratch for every hire is a painful and time consuming process and should be avoided whenever you can.
Whilst recruiting, I’ve heard a variation of this phrase countless times:
“People either want to work for us or they don’t, I’m not going to sell the role to them”.
There is merit in thinking that people should want to work for your business, and in an ideal world every startup would be full of dedicated employees whose ambitions perfectly align with yours and the company’s. Put this in another context though and you’ll see my point. If you sell a SaaS product, would you ever say; “the customer either wants it or they don’t, I’m not going to sell it to them”? I’m guessing probably not.
As a Founder, or hiring manager, you should always be selling your business, and if it’s a “take it or leave it” offer, you’d better hope you have the best offer in town. Startup talent is rare, hard to secure, and there’s no shortage of companies offering everything they can to build their teams. You never know what small detail could be the difference between securing your next superstar, or going back to square-one. Find out what their deciding factors are, then present your opportunity to compliment those. If you’ve done all you can and they go elsewhere, then you know it wasn’t a good fit, but at least you didn’t miss a great hire due miscommunication.
Your future self
I’ll close with a principle that we talk to Founders regularly about;
“In the first 2-3 years of your startup you will be the most important person in the business. In the following 2-3 years, you should be the least important.”
Early on, it’s imperative you have a handle on everything. You should be the heartbeat of how the business presents itself and operates. But if the business is completely reliant on you, then you will ultimately hit a point where you cannot scale. Depending on your goals, that might not be a problem. But if you aim to step away from the “in the trenches work” of startup life, then every hire you make should help facilitate that. Find people that can do what you do, and can do it better. People that you trust to deliver, and who add as much value and competency to your team as possible.
Black Nova have a bespoke Talent offering for early stage and scaling tech startups. If any of these points sound familiar, or you’re hitting roadblocks with your hiring, then please get in contact to learn how we can help.