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How to hire for your start-up

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

In the early days of a start-up, each new hire plays a fundamental role in shaping the business, and defining the brand.

If a bad hire is costly for an established company, a mistake at this stage can steer you off course, and cause a number of issues later down the line. Instead, founders must hire with intention; they must seek star players whose passion drives the company culture, and whose skills contribute towards the success of your start-up.

While it may be tempting to look to your inner circle when assembling your dream-team, tapping into the potential of a wider talent pool could see your business evolve from rock-band-in-a-basement phase to sell-out stadium tour dates – if you choose wisely. The perfect hire may seem elusive, but here are four essential tips to finding the right team for your startup:

Build a foundation for success

Before you can begin growing your team, it’s essential to establish a foundation upon which you can build your business. For starters, take a look at your leadership team: is there a clear chain of command? What is the formal decision making process? Is there a vision of success that your team can work towards? Without structure or direction, new employees can quickly feel demotivated and disenchanted.

Next, assess the needs of the business and the positions you need to fill. Rather than looking to other start-ups as a recruitment roadmap, identify the gaps that exist within your own start-up, before sourcing candidates.

Hire for passion and potential

Should things go to plan, it may feel for a while as though the needs of the business are forever in flux; that the pace at which the company is evolving is too fast to keep up with. Leading a start-up to success requires an ability to adapt to constant change, so focusing on the potential of your candidates is key in sourcing those who can ride the wave, rather than drowning under it.

When hiring your new team, punch above your weight and go for the people you think you can’t get: you may be pleasantly surprised.

Start-ups need a team brimming with passion and determination to succeed. When interviewing candidates, aim to filter out those who are only seeking a stepping stone to their preferred job.

Recruit rockstars

In order to get off the ground, a start-up requires a few all-rounders, who are willing to chop and change their To-Do list at a moment’s notice.

This adaptability should extend to their skill-set, whereby they are quite comfortable switching between roles, when the need arises. As the company grows, you may find a distinct move away from hiring generalists to recruiting specialists.

Until then, star players with proficiency across several areas will prove particularly helpful - especially those who are eager and can be trusted to take on increased responsibility from an early stage.

Nurture your network

Finding this calibre of candidate may seem like a big ask, but they aren’t as hard to find as you might imagine. In fact, rockstars exist within most companies. In many cases, they are undervalued for their commitment and dedication. With this in mind, it’s beneficial not to limit your talent pool to those currently seeking opportunities but to extend it to competent individuals within your wider network. Don’t hesitate to connect with potential candidates on LinkedIn - even those who are employed are often passive jobseekers. Should something change, your exciting new start-up will be front of mind for a budding employee, seeking a fresh start.

For 20 years, the Allen Associates team has been helping employers in Oxfordshire secure the talent they really need. Can we help you? Click here for more information.

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