Top 5 Hiring Tips for Start-Ups : Under30CEO Top 5 Hiring Tips for Start-Ups : Under30CEO
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Top 5 Hiring Tips for Start-Ups

| October 26, 2010 | 5 Comments

Building a great team is crucial to ensuring the success and sustainability of any startup venture. But, there are potential pitfalls to consider, and there’s little room for error if an employee constitutes 25% or even more of your workforce at an early stage company.

While the to-do list of an entrepreneur is endless, it’s important to find ample time for the hiring process in order to identify smart, hard-working candidates whose values align with the workplace culture that you’re working to create.

The most important step before the hiring process even begins, however, is to clearly articulate a plan for what your business is and where it is going. Establish an overall strategy, and a detailed plan for executing against that strategy. Only from there can you determine your human capital needs, and truly build a team that will achieve success.

In my 25 years as an entrepreneur, I’ve put into place some great teams at companies including Lycos, NameMedia, currently at in my role as CEO. I also act as a mentor to many Boston-area entrepreneurs and recently shared the following tips at a presentation for MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup competition where some incredible innovation is being unleashed. I share these top tips for hiring that I’ve learned along the way with you here:

Top 5 Hiring Tips for Start-Ups

1. Planning is Essential – You need to know why you are hiring. Every successful venture has a strategy, or a strategic direction that provides focus, and a work plan for how they will execute against this strategy. You must lay the groundwork with this comprehensive road map before any resource planning can occur.

2. There’s No “I” in Entrepreneur – You might be the entrepreneur, but you’re not omniscient. Be sure to engage your existing team in establishing the strategy and road map. Smart people like to be part of the planning process, and share in the results of learning. And do not fall into the trap that you need to “know” everything – that’s what why you hire world-class talent.

3. Organize Around the Road Map – When determining the talent and skill sets needed to executive your work plan, think about immediate and near-term needs, and prioritize accordingly. Don’t be stymied by building Rome now, but you do have to think about today and tomorrow.

4. Establish a Set of Core Values –  Every entrepreneur has a unique set of beliefs, and you want to make sure your team shares those beliefs – not just your initial team, but each and every staff member added as you grow. These values will guide and sustain the company.

5. Checking References Is Critical – Ask for references and call them – this is critical to verifying the candidate’s claims regarding their experience and work ethic. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and other web-based tools to get a full 360 degree view on your candidates. And, hire through trusted social networks when you can in order to mitigate risk.

Jeff Bennett is the CEO of, an award-winning website where 1 million members swap stuff they have for all the items they want. You can read Jeff’s blog on entrepreneurship and innovation at

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Category: Startup Advice

  • MattWilsontv

    Investigating your candidate before the interview is extremely important. I recently interviewed someone and then googled him after only to find out that he had a party in high school so big that it made the New York Times where 40 people got arrested… would have saved me the time skipping the interview…

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  • Norlan1123

    wow that really sucks, what a waste of time

  • Devesh

    I’d add that the hiring decision should be made based upon:

    a. Skillset required: Unless its a crucial skillset that your startup will need on an ongoing fulltime basis, stay away from hiring a dedicated and make us of virtual assistants.

    b. Amount of work: Assess the workload for the position in discussion beforehand. Last thing you want to worry about is thinking about work to be given to someone otherwise sitting idle on your team.

    c. Revenue generation: Specially in a small business or startup situation, every job/ position should be directly related to revenue generation element. The new employee on board should either generate revenue or free up the time of a revenue generating player on the team.

  • Alain Theriault

    Point #2. Recognize your weaknesses and make sure to hire people that are way better than you in those areas. Maybe tough on your Entrepreneur’s ego but essential to your business growth