14 CEOs Tell You What You Need to Know Before Hiring Your First Employee
We ask 14 startup founders for their advice on hiring your first employee
Hiring your first employee is a landmark moment for any up and coming business. It can be an exciting and daunting time for business owners. Being in a position to hire someone is an achievement worth celebrating, but at the same time the actual process itself can be quite foreign. In order to help you through this period, we’ve collated advice on hiring your first employee from 14 prominent startup founders. They share some key factors to consider along the way in addition to words of encouragement. Here’s their top tips for someone who’s hiring their first employee.
“Hire what you need, not what people or the market tells you that you need.”
Founder and CEO, Stockspot
“Look for people who share the company’s vision, are adaptable and can help create a better customer experience to drive referral growth.”
Founder and CEO, Glamazon
“Cultural fit is just as important as skill set. Your team have to be the conduit for your company values, vision and mission. Skills can be taught over time, passion, hunger and attitude are innate so find someone who is as passionate about the business as the founders.”
Founder and CEO, PetCloud
“Commonly, the first person an entrepreneur might hire, if they aren’t technical themselves, is a freelance developer. It’s important to have clear, broken down tasks, associated with milestone payments when they are achieved, as well as a contractual agreement that contains clauses stating that the ownership of the IP/code that is developed, remains as the property of the company.”
Co-founder and CEO, Hi Pages Group
“It’s really important that the first hires you make embody the values of the company you want to create. It will set the tone and back bone of the culture. In the early days, you may not have those values clearly articulated.
My philosophy in the early days was to hire people that I would be proud to introduce to my mother. It was a simple methodology and a lens I could put through every hire that ensured I was hiring the right people to build our culture.”
Co-founder and CEO, Persollo
“Hire slow, fire fast. Don’t rush in the hiring process, particularly in your first hire. Hiring the wrong employee is expensive, costly to your work environment, and it’s time consuming. Take your time to find the right person for the role. And look overseas too!
There is some great talent outside of Australia. Hiring the right employee pays you back through the employee’s productivity and the positive impact they will have on your work environment.”
CEO and Publisher, Foundr
“Make sure you give them a test project as the last part of the interview process to get a feel for working with this person and for them to get a feel for working with you – it’s easy to tell someone how good you are, let them show you.”
Founder and CEO, Leezair
“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what they’re hired to do.”
“Make sure you are very clear about the role and what’s expected, and the nature or character of the person you’re hiring. Use good independent advisors as sounding boards to check that what you’re looking for makes the most sense.”
Founder and CEO, The Right Fit
“When making your first hire, it’s important to be brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and the skills that this employee will need to have to compliment you. With your first hire, you generally end up spending a huge amount of time with this person, and it builds the foundation for the future of your company’s culture, so keep in mind the type of culture you want to create and ensure the person embodies this.
It’s OK to ask for help too! If you’ve never interviewed or hired before, ask a mentor or advisor to sit in on the interview, or conduct a follow up call. And as with all hires – hire slow and fire fast!”
“Your first hire is critical and will allow you to scale your business. It takes time, don’t rush it. Setting up a recruitment process (pipeline, stages, questions) is crucial and sticking to it will allow you to have a rational way to evaluate/compare your candidates.
If you want to offer equity to your early stage employee, make sure that a cliff and/or an equity vesting is put in place. Last but not least, listen to, and trust your instincts about the candidates.”
Founder/CEO, The Squiz
“Ask yourself: What’s the most important function that needs to be carried out that will give us the best chance at success and who will fit in and deal with the challenges ahead?”
“You have to look at it as a challenge and most likely your first sales job. Why? Because you probably can’t pay full market rate, so you have to convince somebody to come along for the ride and believe in it that much they are ready to forgo a little cash.”
“Your first 20 team members are critical as they’ll shape the direction and culture of your company in the future. Find team members that want to buy into the vision of the company and are passionate and driven to change the industry that you operate in.”
Hiring your first employee shouldn’t be something to fear at all. With expert advice and our ebook by your side you’re well on your way to becoming someone’s new boss. It’s time to get hiring and reap the rewards today!
Chris is the Partnerships Manager at Lawpath. He holds a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney. He is interested in how technology can influence the future of the legal industry.