By Zain Jaffer
The pandemic was a nightmare for workers and businesses alike. During the first year, 200,000 more businesses closed than normal according to historical levels in the United States, and this led to 22 million job losses in wealthy nations for a total of 114 million worldwide. These numbers aren’t to be taken lightly; the impact that joblessness can have on the economy and the lives and families of people experiencing it is profound and beyond words.
But there’s hope here as well, and it takes the form of a thriving ecosystem of new businesses and startups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce performed a study digging into startup trends during the pandemic, and found that, in 2020—in the depths of the pandemic—more than 4.3 million new business applications were filed, and around 380 out of every 100,000 U.S. adults became new entrepreneurs each month. These numbers, similarly, carry significant weight.
However, many of these companies are about to enter the scale-up phase, which is easily one of the most precarious. Many risks populate the path from startups to household names. For one, a business leader may have to accept the fact that the management structure of the company may no longer work as new staff are introduced.
Employers may also need to adjust how they handle hours, benefits, breaks, etc., and dive deep into learning employment law. Sometimes, growing a company may paradoxically require layoffs as the skills required for success in an industry shift. Perhaps the biggest risks are alienating old customers as a business grows and growing too fast—never realizing that it’s too soon to start hiring on more staff.
For new-to-market companies making strides in their fields, the intuitive next move might be to dive into the robust pool of talent that’s looking for new work in the wake of the pandemic. But startups should be mindful in taking this next step. Following is a list of best practices for companies looking to hire in order to scale.
6 hiring best practices for growing startups
1. Start off strong
First things first, startups looking to scale their recruitment strategy need a plan, and it’s essential to time everything right. This is particularly true for businesses that scale rapidly.
According to volume hiring solutions company Harver, it’s important to take stock of the challenges that exist in the founder’s startup’s field, and the unique ones the startup itself faces. It’s also a good idea to consider what the team’s goals are in the long-, medium-, and short-term to get a handle on where the venture aims to go, and when.
Also, it’s essential to make sure that scaling efforts happen at the right time. Sometimes, the market can imply that it’s time to strike when the iron is hot, but in actuality, it’s just getting a bit warmer—and may cool down too quickly.
2. Build the right team
Companies that grow prematurely or in the wrong ways run the risk of being unsustainable. A hiring budget needs to be balanced across the necessary investment areas, including staffing for different skills, compensating correctly, and hiring in the order in which staff need to come onboard. A team needs to function like a well-oiled machine, and employers have the opportunity to build that machine by taking stock of their existing talent, and doing a needs analysis for the path ahead.
The Chicago Booth Review suggests performing an audit of competencies in your startup. Work to pin down the skills your startup needs to survive and thrive, and take note of which of these skills your team possesses and which it does not.
The Review also notes that discipline is a must-have in the scale-up process, so, as you work to build your team, start to implement an organizational structure. A good structure should enable cooperation and accountability, which are essential to a growing business.
3. Attract the best talent
Attracting the best people for the job, and the best fits for a company’s culture, can make all the difference as a venture scales. Job search platform Indeed has a wealth of information for employers looking to bring skilled, passionate people onto your team. Advice includes:
- Create a hiring rubric. This ensures prospective hires fill any niches and aids in transparency.
- Use candidate selection platforms. Though these aren’t always the most thorough, they can help streamline the hiring process.
- Offer a remote work option. Some employees see the ability to work from home as a boon. This, of course, depends on the nature of the position.
- Write thorough and well-drafted job descriptions. Beyond communicating a position’s needs and the necessary skills and qualifications, this also helps a startup look more professional.
- Prioritize diversity. The most successful companies, both financially and culturally, make diversity a focus and seek help in ensuring a bias-free recruiting strategy to attract and support candidates with diverse experiences and backgrounds.
4. Don’t let experience intimidate you
According to Myles Hunter, co-founder and CEO of TutorMe, there’s nothing wrong with not being the most knowledgeable person in the room. Founders and CEOs should know the history of the startup and maintain the vision of where it’s heading, but it’s not a bad thing for staff to know more about specific moving parts within a company. In fact, this can lead to stronger teams overall.
More articles from AllBusiness.com:
- Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Looking for Change After the Great Resignation
- 11 Things to Do Today That Will Grow Your Business Tomorrow
5. Avoid common pitfalls
Throughout the hiring and scaling process, there are some common pitfalls to which startups can fall prey. Sales expert John Livesay says it’s important to monitor your team for corporate burnout. Hiring more people should, ideally, make work easier for everyone. But scaling too fast can lead to undue stress.
Further, it takes time to onboard new hires, and a successful onboard is crucial to employee engagement and long-term satisfaction. It’s worthwhile to keep an eye on everyone’s stress levels and offer internal mentorship and training throughout the process.
6. Get ready to learn
Scaling up isn’t an easy process. There are many challenges facing leaders who are building their teams and growing their startups. Sometimes, employers will meet these challenges head-on, and come out victorious. Other times, they’ll emerge bruised and battered. But all great leaders understand the importance of learning from their mistakes, and great companies make those changes as they continue their hiring efforts.
For founders, knowledge comes in many forms, and it doesn’t always have to be firsthand. Learn from other companies that are facing similar challenges, or reach out to a knowledgeable mentor (who most definitely made their own mistakes in their time).
Scaling is an exciting, dangerous time, but if founders keep their minds open and are willing to take on new information and perspectives, they’ll find their dream team and make an industry impact.
About the Author
Zain Jaffer is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of Zain Ventures. Zain is an active investor and mentor, engaging with startups at an early stage in their journey.
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