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8 questions all startups should ask when building a winning team

Any entrepreneur's dream is to take a business from startup to scale-up. Yet the reality is, it takes visionary leadership, an inspired strategy, flawless execution and loads of cash to achieve the dream. Owner-founders often start out managing all aspects of the business from CEO, business developer, office administrator, marketer, IT manager and bookkeeper, all while being both the visionary and the heart of the company. But as the business grows, the founder soon needs more people on the team to support the growth of the business. This article explores eight questions that all startups should ask when building a winning team.
8 questions all startups should ask when building a winning team

Attracting and hiring the right people at all levels of the company is critical to successful growth. So how does one attract and hire the right people when starting a business with little cash, or when looking to scale-up?

Simply, consider different ways of hiring the skills needed without having to spend all the cash on salaries and office space. Too often, employers start off with a mindset of having to employ people who work from 8am to 5pm, with a desk in an expensive office. The reality is that there are a myriad of other hiring strategies that a startup can follow to optimise the required resources.

Building a winning team starts by asking these questions:

1. Should we start with a distributed or hybrid workforce?

A distributed workforce is one where all of the employees work remotely. A hybrid workforce is where one blends both remote working with office working when required to do so. The default to hiring staff has always been expensive office space, but ask if it is necessary to the success of the startup or scale-up? 2020 has positively changed the thinking globally about the viability and success of working as a remote team. The rental and office furnishing cost savings can be invested in productive staffing. Read more on the benefits of hiring remote employees.

2. Should we utilise skilled part-timers to deliver more output per hour worked?

Hour-for-hour part-timers are more productive than full-time employees. Consider each of the skills required and decide if they need to be full-time or if they can start off part-time and grow into full-time employees as the company grows. Part-time skills can be hired on either reduced hours per day or fewer days per week. Hiring skilled part-time employees means that one only pays for the hours needed. Focus on productivity and output rather than presence in office. RecruitMyMom has helped thousands of startups to resource their early-stage and subsequently scale-up stage businesses with skilled part-timers in various disciplines from finance to marketing, and more.

3. Should we outsource non-core work to experienced freelancers and independent contractors that add value from day one, or should we employ permanent staff?

The question startups and scale-ups need to ask is if they want to employ all the skills in-house or if they want to outsource non-core skills to experienced contractors. The benefit of hiring independent contractors is that entrepreneurs can focus on the core function of the business, leaving the expert consultant to do the job for which they are hired. An added benefit of hiring independent consultants is that they are not added to the payroll expense. Functions such as HR, legal, IT and marketing can be outsourced to experts in their field. These skills are particularly attractive to companies in South Africa, the UK, Australia and USA where English is the preferred language of choice.

4. What skills must we hire remotely in order to secure top talent and where do we find them?

If a particular skill is in short-supply in the geographical area of the business, consider looking for remote A-players. Hiring remote staff opens the talent pool to a national and global level. Companies globally seek out top-calibre South African skills to work remotely because of the calibre of skill, English language and favourable exchange rates. When looking to hire top-calibre remote skills, use experts in remote recruitment, like RecruitMyMom, that know and understand what soft skills a candidate requires in order to successfully thrive as a work-from-home employee.

5. What is the Employee Experience (EX) that we want all our employees to have in this company from day one?

Be intentional about the experience every potential employee has of the company from recruitment to onboarding and thriving. Having a positive Employee Experience translates into more loyal employees. Enabling employees to grow with the company ensures that they remain engaged and the continuity of company culture remains intact. If the cost of a bad hire is 15 times their annual salary according to Topgrading, it is essential to get the experience and subsequent hiring process right the first time to attract and retain top talent. Giving employees the option to choose in office or work from home, plays an important part in creating a positive Employee Experience.

6. Can skilled fixed-term contractors accelerate upskilling in initial and scale-up stages of the business?

Organisational structures will look very different at startup versus scale-up stages. Consider, if by hiring fixed-term contractual skills, such as IT, financial, legal or HR managers etc, one can upskill the organisation rapidly without a long-term hiring commitment. This will give the management team time to see exactly what skills the organisation requires for each phase of growth. In addition, it gives entrepreneurs time to thoroughly understand the employees fit and expertise before moving to permanent employment. Skilled project managers, for example, can be hired on a fixed duration basis to manage projects with a finite completion date or deliverable, without having to be employed permanently, thereby lowering the risk of employing and then needing to retrench or scale back.

7. What work can others be doing which frees owner-founders up to work on the business growth strategy?

A business leader’s time is valuable to the company and needs to be optimised by focusing on business growth, not operations and administration. The best solution is to hire other people, in the most cost-effective way, to do the work that hinders leaders from focusing on making a success of the company. The growth in demand of skilled virtual assistants is an excellent example of where owner-founders are seeing the value in hiring a skilled remote employee to do the work they do not have the time to do.

8. How does one lower the risk of making a bad hiring decision?

Making a bad hiring decision is costly in monetary terms, and it can cost a company its reputation too. To reduce the risk of a bad hiring decision, go through a thorough recruitment process and use a professional recruiter if you are unsure.

Write out the key success factors required for the job and keep in mind the problem the business is trying to solve. Avoid trying to hire unicorns, rather focus on the critical success factors of the job, and hire accordingly.

Have a rigorous CV and interview process in place. Look for gaps and potential red flags on a CV. Ensure the recruit is aligned to the company values and culture. Conduct reference and background checks, or use a recruitment agency you trust to do the work and checks on your behalf.

Owner-founders of startups and small businesses have a lot to juggle and by attracting and retaining the right staff one will get to the scale-up phase sooner and in a more sustainable way. By asking these eight questions, entrepreneurs can hire staff that fit the needs of the business now, and as the business grows to transition to scale-up.

30 Nov 2020 12:49

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