What is one pitfall that comes when staffing a startup? How can it be avoided?
To help you best avoid the pitfalls associated with staffing a startup, we asked successful startup founders and business owners this question for their best insights. From alienating passionate early employees to understaffing or overworking your team, there are several pitfalls that startup founders would do well to avoid when staffing their new ventures.
Here are nine pitfalls to avoid when staffing your startup:
- Avoid Alienating Passionate Early Employees
- Focus on Your Startup Strengths to Attract Top Talent
- Don’t Overhire
- Understand and Calculate Wages Correctly to Avoid Staff Displeasure
- Staff for the Present to Stay on Track
- Avoid Hiring in a Hurry and Focus on Finding the Right Fit
- Don’t Neglect Staff Diversity
- Avoid Hiring People Who Are Not Passionate About Your Mission
- Avoid Understaffing or Overworking Your Team
Avoid Alienating Passionate Early Employees
One pitfall when staffing a startup is recruiting a workforce that feels uber passionate about and connected to the initial mission, yet then feels abandoned when the vision evolves. One way to avoid this occurrence is to make it clear from the beginning that the startup is likely to evolve and give your stars influence and ownership in shaping that culture rather than letting them feel simply pulled by the tide.
Tasia Duske, Museum Hack
Focus on Your Startup Strengths to Attract Top Talent
Startups are often lauded for their innovation, creativity, and outside-the-box thinking. However, staffing a startup can also present some unique challenges. One common pitfall is that startups may have difficulty attracting top talent. This is because established companies can offer more attractive salary packages and benefits packages. Startups may also be perceived as being more risky, which can deter some job seekers.
To avoid this pitfall, startups need to focus on selling themselves as being dynamic, forward-thinking, and exciting places to work. They should also look for creative ways to compensate employees, such as offering stock options or profit sharing. By taking these steps, startups can increase their chances of attracting high-quality employees.
Jim Campbell, Wizve – Digital & Affiliate Marketing Agency
The Dot-com bubble burst of 2000 occurred when companies that were doubling down on the Internet-first craze hired too many people. They bloated their work forces based on the promise that their businesses would be profitable. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, people were not ready to shift their shopping habits to a digital model – and those companies inevitably crashed. They couldn’t be salvaged because they had so much money tied up in their work forces. That may be an extreme example, but the lesson is clear: Don’t hire based on projections. Be sensible and don’t overhire.
Trevor Ford, Yotta
Understand and Calculate Wages Correctly to Avoid Staff Displeasure
Mixing or miscalculating wages can be a big pitfall when staffing a start-up business. Money is pretty tight, so understanding the difference is vital to success. For example, knowing the difference between the National MINIMUM and the National LIVING wages is essential because that few pence differences could lead to a catastrophe when it gets to payday. So to avoid this from happening, make sure to research, understand and calculate your budget correctly before staffing your start-up.
Wendy Makinson, Joloda Hydraroll
Staff for the Present to Stay on Track
When staffing your startup, it can be difficult not to look ahead and search for candidates that you’ll need down the road. However, to stick to your budget and find job seekers who fit your current needs, you’ll need to stay in the present. Which roles need to be filled right away, and which will you need in six months, according to your trajectories? Line this out before you even begin the hiring process, so that you can stay on track.
Mark Sider, Greater Than
Avoid Hiring in a Hurry and Focus on Finding the Right Fit
While it’s crucial to fill the vacancies at a start-up, it’s essential to avoid hiring in a hurry. Although the workload may be higher than expected at times, keep the search open until you find the right fit for the job. When the experience, long-term goals, and values of the candidate match your company’s, consider locking them down for the position. If you fail to do this, it may lead to low retention rates and productivity.
Marc Roca, 4WD Life
Don’t Neglect Staff Diversity
Diversity is a crucial aspect to consider while staffing a startup. While it’s important to hire in line with the culture of the workplace, it’s also necessary to avoid too much homogeneity. If you fail to do so, it can lead to groupthink and the generation of ideas that are too similar, at its worst. Moreover, when different styles of thinking come together, it can result in some much-needed disruption that keeps the ideas fresh and innovative — something that is crucial in a startup.
Benoit Lacroix, Portmoni
Avoid Hiring People Who Are Not Passionate About Your Mission
One pitfall that comes when staffing a startup is hiring people who are more interested in the job role than in your company’s mission. Your company has a mission and vision to accomplish, and you need people who are passionate about what you are trying to achieve.
To avoid this pitfall, make sure you hire people who believe in what you’re doing and want to be part of making it happen. Look for candidates who have a clear understanding of why they want to work at your company and what they think they can contribute to its success. Not the ones who only care about themselves—those kinds of employees may not stay for long.
Yoav Morder, Sonary
Avoid Understaffing or Overworking Your Team
It’s fairly normal and understandable for start-ups to work with limited funds and consequently, limited resources. However, not filling all the roles and having one competent team member do more than they signed up for can backfire in the long run. It may seem to work at the moment, but it leads to burnout and lowers retention of talent. However talented they are, avoid making the mistake of overworking them and instead find ways to hire enough people for the job.
Igal Rubinshtein, Home Essentials Direct
Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.