Establishing a startup is a nonstop job. During this initial stage, founders need employees and co-founders by their side, working with them around the clock to build out their companies.
However, since small business founders gain knowledge as they go, they sometimes make poor hiring decision. Dr. Gena Bofshever, a chiropractor who opened her own practice is Florida, took on a new employee and soon realized that this person wasn’t the right fit. She says that she realized the difference it made afterwards.
“All of my staff, including her, were happier,” she said. “Our team became more cohesive, and I learned a valuable lesson: when one person in the relationship is feeling something is off, chances are the other one is as well.”
Getting more input than necessary
At first, you want to hear opinions from those who work in your industry, as well as fellow entrepreneurs. However, too much input can quickly become noise, so you need to seek out guidance from a few wise mentors instead.
Allison McGuire, the CEO and co-founder of Walc, a walking navigation app, says that when she began her startup, one hiring mistake she made “was taking on too many ‘advisors,’ who were really just people I talked to about the app idea and got advice from. They weren’t all working advisors as we have now.”
If you ask tons of people for their opinions, you’re going to receive conflicting answers. Instead, only reach out to professionals you trust who have a proven track record with their own startups.
Expecting too much from employees
No one is going to be as committed to your startup as you are. You probably aren’t going to be able to find an employee who is willing to always be on call and put in the hours and dedication that you do.
Konstantinos Papakonstantinou is the founder of Board Studios, a startup that provides video solutions to businesses. He says that when he hired his first few employees, he expected too much from them.
“We’re trying to replicate ourselves,” he says. “That’s extremely difficult because outsiders lack the experience and motivation of the founder, so the first couple of hires could be set up for failure.”
Taking too much time to replace an employee
An established corporation can take months to train a new employee without feeling a financial burden or seeing problems with workflow. Startups, however, don’t have that kind of time.
Before Papakonstantinou realized that he didn’t have the opportunity to train an employee for months on end, he made two hiring mistakes. For six months, he “spent a lot of time giving detailed feedback and hand-holding.” In the end, the employee left on his own.
The next time around, however, Papakonstantinou had learned his lesson. His second hire “seemed like a great match, but then the work product was nowhere close to what I expected,” Papakonstantinou says. “This time, I ended the relationship within one month. It was better for the business.”
How the start-up founders hire now
Since a candidate can say anything they think you want to hear in an interview, it’s not a sufficient way to figure out if a candidate is right for the job. Instead, Papakonstantinou tries out candidates on a trial basis before making a final hiring decision.
“I give as much feedback and guidance as possible, and expect to see substantial improvement within a two- to three-week period before taking a more determined step forward,” he says. “This limits my access to candidates who are actually available to that extent, but for many positions, it’s essential.”
When McGuire looks to hire new employees, she considers whom she clicks with the best.
“Personality is everything,” she says. “When I started the hiring process, I looked to a former boss for some guidance. She gave great advice: hire people with whom you wouldn’t mind being stranded at an airport.”
McGuire also takes on employees who are willing to do anything and everything to help her startup reach its objectives.
“I look for adaptability, resilience, and a can-do attitude,” she says. “When people come in with the that’s-not-my-job perspective, I know it’s not going to work. We’re a startup. Everyone does everything.”
Photo credit: Business Models Inc