Determining People Needs

Entrepreneurs preparing to hire their first employees should proceed with caution. It’s costly to commit to an employee’s salary and benefits. And what start-up can afford to have even one employee who isn’t working to full capacity? Firing an employee can mean not only severance pay (and sometimes litigation) but also time and resources devoted to finding a replacement. How can entrepreneurs navigate the pitfalls of hiring? #MondayMarket starts now

The first questions you would typically wrestle with are whom to hire, when and where to find good candidates? The following is a rundown of some basics:

Which Position? – What position to fill first will differ for each company, depending on industry, location and the skills of the founders. Entrepreneurs must boil down their staffing plan to a handful of people who can get the company’s product or service to market. High-level executives aren’t usually hired until the company has seen some significant growth. For example, you don’t need a Vice President of Marketing or sales before there’s a product. In a tech company, an acting Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Technology Officer usually suffice.

Do you really need to hire someone? – Many services can be outsourced or done by free-lancers/volunteers. This work may include accounting, website design, marketing and public relations — even administrative assistants can be hired on a “virtual” basis now online or the company can make use of collaborative software and app designed specifically to handle schedules. Deciding which tasks to outsource and which to hire an employee for may come down to whether the work lies within your business’s main areas of strength and whether that function is needed on a regular basis.

Whom to hire? Small companies often do best with flexible candidates who are used to smaller environments. In many cases, the ideal candidate can operate with a great deal of autonomy and doesn’t require handholding. It might be tempting to hire candidates with big-business credentials, but they’re often not a good fit. In a big company, there are rules, regulations and processes to do everything. In a small company, there often are no set jobs, and everyone may do a bit of everything.

An entrepreneur’s best bet for finding employees usually is networking. If an employee recommends someone, there’s a much higher likelihood that person will be successful in the job. Why? Candidates get a much more honest perspective of the company, and in most cases an employee is going to recommend only someone he or she thinks will be successful, to avoid tarnishing his or her own reputation. Start-ups typically find their first 10 or 15 employees this way.

Other options for finding the good staff can be – online job boards, social media, newspapers and even recruitment consultants/companies.
Which method has worked for you?

2 thoughts on “Determining People Needs”

  1. This deeply resonates with me, once you commit to paying an employee’s salary, his/her livelihood is directly dependent on you (especially for full time roles) and this indirectly ties the livelihood of all his/her dependents and their own dependents and so on to you.

    e.g.: Mr. Lagbaja is owed 100,000 by ABC Ventures, Mrs. Lagbaja expects to get 50,000 from her husband when she is paid as she wants to use 20,000 to expand her business, send 10,000 to her sick mother, 5,000 to her brother in the university and 5,000 to her pregnant friend. These people in turn plan to use the money to settle other commitments and so on and so forth.

    The moment Mr. Lagbaja isn’t paid; he and all the people under him suffer.

    1. Very nice illustration. I hope employers get to see the big picture and do the right thing by their employees.

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