Find the right first employees for your new business


When you start a new business, hiring your employees is often one of the first and most important steps. Employees are nothing short of the lifeforce of a company. Without great staff, your growth, and ultimately your success, will be severely limited. You need people to help you succeed. And over time, you’ll come to learn that people will be your greatest challenge and asset – at the same time. The first consideration you need to make is financial. It is vital that you form a budget for your labor costs and make sure that it fits in with your overall profit strategy. Let’s look at some common staffing challenges in more detail and make sure you take the right path for success. Understanding your options and key considerations is an important ingredient in a startup culture.

Estimate Costs of Payroll and Benefits

When you hire employees for positions in your business, check the average pay for this position on the market. There are a couple of quick and easy ways to do this for free. Try researching on a few websites such as, and Undercutting the market is a risk you may want to avoid. It’s a common trap to think that you can come in below what the market bears. However, as an unproven startup with limited brand awareness, you may have to pay above the current market rates, especially for high-demand skills such as technology. And, paying a little premium might ensure you get above average workers. If you want the best chance for success, then avoid the underpayment trap.

Note the laws and regulations that come with having employees too. You may need to account for payroll taxes and eventually benefits such as healthcare, paid leave, insurance and more. These costs can add up. However, there are great small business platforms for payroll management to help make things easier for small business owners. Additionally, in today’s job market, make sure to put aside time and money for recruiting. The average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) new Human Capital Benchmarking Report.

Is there Enough Work for the Employee to Perform?

Another question to ask before you dive into building a team is whether or not you have enough work for the new hire. Don’t try and grow your business too quickly. A lot of companies make this mistake, building up a massive team before they really need them. If you do this, you will find that you have more employees than there’s actual work for them to do. This is a waste of money and will quickly become a drain on your budget. My suggestion is to list out the work that needs to get done and then review it to see if you can separate out the urgent work that will add immediate value from the “nice to have” tasks that can wait. If you have enough work on your priority list, then hiring someone may be prudent.   

How will the Employee Add Value?

You need to make sure that you focus on hiring employees that are going to add value to your business. They should be filling a specific crucial role in your company that can’t be handled by anyone else on the payroll. Carefully consider the absolute minimum number you need to handle all the jobs in your business. Then ask the question, can I outsource this task to a vendor on an as-needed basis? Think about payroll for example. You can have a vendor handle your payroll so that you don’t have to hire a payroll accountant or manager. Vendors may be more expensive in the long run, but may provide a bridge for you until you have enough work to justify the compensation of a full time hire. The same could be said for other activities (i.e. Marketing, Human Resources, Call Center Services) until the work requires a full time employee.

Do they have the Right Skills?

There are a range of skills that can be valuable when recruiting a new employee. Customer service skills, tech skills, and management skills will all be necessary for a range of positions. However, during recruitment drives, you might also want to consider looking for other skills that might be beneficial including second languages, creative design, copywriting, etc. This can help make sure that business fills in a few more gaps along the way. Often in an early stage business it is an advantage to have well rounded professionals willing to roll up their sleeves and wear many hats.

Do they have the Right Personality and Work Ethic?

You don’t want to hire people who will do the bare minimum in their position. Instead, you need to look for the people who will go the extra mile and provide the loyalty you need to ensure that your business will succeed. However, it’s a bit unrealistic to staff your company with people who will match your dedication, passion and drive. After all, it’s not their company, it’s yours. So calibrating your expectations is crucial to the success of your hires and setting the right tone. Finding the right person for the job isn’t just about checking their credentials but also the references they give from previous employers, and asking about the items that are important to your business.

Use the Gig Economy

Another great resource that has recently come on the scene is the proliferation of websites that connect freelancers with business owners for project-based work. Take advantage of websites such as, and Leveraging these sites for tasks including logos, flyers, websites, copywriting and more, can save you a lot of time and money. Again, it’s another method for bridging the gap of skills and holding off on hiring full time specialists. It also allows you to supplement your existing staff, or help them focus on their roles rather than perform tasks that they are not really skilled at completing. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can outsource. The downside is you may not be able to build up institutional knowledge. Furthermore, additional revisions and work usually will come with a price tag.

All in all, finding the right mix of talent and supplementing with freelancers will be essential to growing your business at the right pace and budget. Avoid some common pitfalls such as underpaying for talent and you’ll be well positioned for long term success. Lastly, world-class organizations adopt the “ABR: Always Be Recruiting” principle. See here why the smart move for growing companies is to always be recruiting talent.

Happy hiring!