Whether you’re a cash-strapped entrepreneur or a Fortune 500 leader with a bevy of resources, attracting and hiring employees to run important aspects of your business can be a headache. One wrong hire, and all that time and money you spent on recruitment and training go straight down the drain.
However, with a little creative planning and research, you can find quality employees without the frustration or crushing expenses commonly associated with growth.
The Headaches of Hiring
As an entrepreneur, you probably don’t have all the resources you’d like. Developing a dynamic team is difficult for any business, but it can be especially difficult for startups. You can’t afford to hire employees who may not perform as well as you’d predicted. You want to attract quality people, so you sometimes offer what you have: the promise of your ideas.
Unfortunately, early-stage entrepreneurs often make the mistake of giving away too much equity at the beginning to entice talented employees. This later leads to potential legal and financial headaches once the business achieves success or ground-floor employees pursue other opportunities. How do you strategically plan for practical growth?
Build Your Winning Team
While you want to build the World Series-winning Red Sox, sometimes you can only afford to hire minor league prospects. To build a championship-caliber team out of the talent you can afford, you’ll need to apply a little of Billy Beane’s logic from “Moneyball” to your hiring decisions. Here are a few things you’ll need to weigh when building your team:
1. Consider nontraditional employees.
Freelancers, interns, and other forms of temporary labor are ideal for many situations. You have the potential to gain expertise and energy without straining your funds. Technology and marketing are vital aspects of any business, and there’s currently no shortage of freelance and intern talent in tech and creative fields.
Even in operations, back-end processing, and other knowledge-based fields, you can connect with business schools to organize unpaid internships and independent study projects. These opportunities should provide real-world experience to students, not just grunt work. Most students actively seek possible career opportunities when choosing an internship, so you have the chance to develop your potential future team without exorbitant training costs.
Temporary workers are great for both creative and mundane tasks, and they help offset the costs associated with hiring and firing full-time employees. Seasonal temporary workers can assist you during overwhelming periods. If temporary workers show incredible skills and motivation during their time, they could potentially join your team permanently in the future.
2. Ask your friends.
Soliciting help from friends and family can be a great way to find new employees. You never know who’s at a point to make a change or believes in you enough to take a leap of faith. The benefit is you already know your friends’ personalities. However, this is something you seriously need to consider because, while loved ones want to be on board your ship, they’re also more difficult to throw overboard if necessary.
3. Know your limitations.
Theories and plans are great, but keep in mind that cash is what ultimately fuels the growth of your business. Don’t hire so many people that you can’t afford to pay them. No matter how much money you throw at marketing, it sometimes takes longer than you expect for an idea to gain traction.
It’s important that you strike a balance between hiring as many people as you need to perform the work and hiring so many that you can’t afford to pay them over the long haul. Job security is a two-way street when you’re first building your business.
4. Challenge your team.
Perhaps the most practical solution to growth is empowering your current team. Organize projects and roles that challenge your team to grow while still maintaining the capability to succeed. Obviously, overworking your employees is not going to boost morale. However, if you play to their strengths and then push them to investigate their potential, the experience can inject energy and momentum into your business.
Nobody likes being in a room full of strangers. We would all love to have a reliable, affordable, and enduring team, but this situation is rare for a startup. How fast and strong your company grows is directly tied to the quality of people on board and the training and direction you give them. Seeking alternative strategies to hiring can help develop employees ready for future growth opportunities and keep your costs low, allowing for even more potential as you establish your company.
However you choose to build your team, make sure you remember the fundamental of “Moneyball” — the only statistic that matters is how many bases you’ve covered.
Rob Biederman is the co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd, a service that connects businesses to top MBA students and alumni to solve critical business problems at affordable prices. Connect with Rob on Twitter and Google+.
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