When should a startup start hiring, you will ask? Never, I will say. Never, until it really hurts, and hurts badly. Until you are ready to host a new member in your family, like your own wife or child. Because people are not just most important and valuable assets, sellable during the pitch deck. But they are a very expensive resource, which most of the startups cannot afford.
“Show me the money”
As a person, who knows what it means to stand in front of the employees when your startup failed the investment, I will say “Never forget about responsibility”. Responsibility for the person, his wife and kids, his expectations, his bank loans, his landlord, his…I can list endlessly. Don’t overestimate yourself or your perspectives. 1 year commitment is a must, make sure you have a money for this period, and share it clearly with the candidate. If you make it for at least one year, move forward and do it, but your employee should be ready for that.
Working for startup is quite risky, you will say? And many people are ready for that, because one year is still a quite long period of time. But it’s not just about money. TRUST is a key. Trust creates feeling of stability, which subsequently increases productivity. So, budget is not just a money you give, but a comfort in relationships you built between you and your employee.
Fire Yourself First
Hiring someone in a startup means firing yourself from this job. It’s not just about management and mirco-management; but readiness to share and maturity to delegate. Are you ready to give away part of your job to person next to you? Not many founders can do that, trust me. Do you have enough job for him or her, or is it just a one-minute strike? How will you find out whether you are ready or not?
Write a job description. It will take you one or two days to cover everything, and you will have enough time to decide, whether the time came or not. At the same time, it’s a great mechanism to follow up daily stuff with this employee. You know the major parts or projects, now just add details.
Not just delegating, but guiding people is really important. When you hire an employee you take all the responsibility for him, and it’s not just about money or personal motivation. But feeling useful and productive is what you, as a boss, give to people. Especially during the first few months. Work on the plan together, set realistic deadlines, ask if he/she has any questions, create an efficient reporting mechanism. Invite him/her for the meetings with the clients. A new employee due to his/her ‘newness’ might not be too impressive, but let him/her feel the smell of the product, the culture of the company. Make that employee feel that he can reach you when needed. And s/he will need that, trust me, especially in the beginning.
So, now you tell me WHEN are you ready?