How early-stage startups can attract and retain the right talent

Entrepreneurs hiring for their startup must remember that they are not recruiting just another employee but a team member who will influence the company’s growth and culture in the long run.
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It is a known fact that businesses are run on people. Irrespective of their size or scale, most companies understand this and increasingly focus on building robust hiring and people strategies to ensure they have the right talent.

Building a solid team is especially critical for early-stage startups. The challenge lies not in finding the talent but finding individuals with the right skills but who also share the same zeal and enthusiasm to join you on your mission.

In essence, you are not recruiting just another employee for your company or business but a team member who will influence the company’s growth and culture in the long run. Perhaps, this is why entrepreneurs consider hiring one of the most critical factors for startup success.

Here are some hiring tips to help entrepreneurs find the right talent and build a solid team:

Sell your story

Attracting the right talent for your organisation is no less than pitching your startup before investors. It takes the same effort to convince a prospective candidate as to why they should join you or even consider the offer in the first place.

First and foremost, communicate your purpose, the reason why your company was born, and what it aims to achieve is most critical. Then talk about what you expect them (the candidate) to bring to the table to accomplish this purpose.

This allows the prospective employee to understand their place within the organisation and how integral they are to the mission. The more strongly they can relate to your vision and goals, the more effective their work will be.

Look for curiosity and depth in the person

Most of the breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions throughout history are the results of curiosity. Likewise, having inquisitive individuals with in-depth knowledge in a particular domain is very important as they lead innovation and change in both work and workplaces.

While hiring, look for individuals who offer a combination of width + depth, commonly known as T-shaped workers, as they bring on board qualities vital for an early-stage startup. These kinds of people have both subject matter expertise and the temperament to work with others collaboratively.

Assess the candidate's motive

Today, working for a startup is seen as an attractive proposition by many millennials owing to its "high-risk and high-reward" nature. At the same time, some consider it as a great "learning ground". However, many fail to understand that the ownership and accountability stakes in a startup are pretty high.

Working in a startup means owning complete responsibility of building a product or accomplishing a task all by one's own or with the support of a lean team while juggling multiple roles. In essence, an employee in a startup is a quasi-entrepreneur and requires more hard work, determination, and dedication. You must look for these traits in your next candidate.

Invest in a performance-based reward system

Your employees are the most valuable asset of your company. Ensure to have a well-defined and laid-out growth path for each person, so they feel constantly challenged and equipped to achieve their potential. More importantly, recognise and reward their accomplishments and give credit where it's due.

Today, most startups offer incentives like ESOPs, which help employees stay determined to take the company forward as their rewards/incentives are directly proportional to the growth and success of the company. Be generous with such rewards and annual appraisals to keep your team motivated, and they, in turn, will ensure consistent performance.

Do not go overboard

In the excitement of a recent fundraiser or the prospects of expanding the business, entrepreneurs sometimes tend to go on hiring sprees to increase their headcount. Unless you intend to get into large activity-based industries such as manufacturing or construction, be frugal with your numbers but generous with your D&I goals. The idea is to have a small group of highly diverse people in their skill sets. This approach will help you build a much resilient workforce that can fuel the organic growth of your business.

When it comes to startup hiring, entrepreneurs should understand that it should always be quality over quantity, and not the other way around. The early set of employees lay the foundation for an organisation's culture.

Therefore, you cannot afford to make the wrong bet. It is imperative for entrepreneurs to accurately assess the individual on their skills, attitude, and cultural fit before hiring them.

After all, early-stage hiring and team building are not just about getting some people to fill vacant positions but about building your cohort of future leaders.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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