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4 Key Hacks for Hiring First Employees

Posted by Nailah Morgan on 2017-04-19

"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." As Kofi Annan put so eloquently, acquiring and sharing knowledge is key to progress.

In our Roundtable Discussion Series, we've asked our network to share their personal knowledge and experience so that we, in turn, can help share the invaluable information to fellow entrepreneurs on their path to success.

In this discussion, Bankerslab founder Michelle Katics, and IncentOne Founder Michael Dermer, share their hacks on hiring first employees.

1. Follow the rule "hire slow, fire fast" 

Michelle Katics, Co-Founder and CEO of BankersLab

"We have also been pretty shameless about geo-arbitrage, choosing the region of each new hire based on our strategy of global scaling and labor costs. This has led to an extremely global distributed team, so far so good! Note: your strategy for bootstrapping [hiring short term / part time first] will be different than your strategy if you have raised funding [hire faster and full time, demand quicker commitment from key early hires]."

2. Pay More

Michael Dermer, Founder of IncentOne and The Lonely Entrepreneur

"I violated this one many times. The difference between someone who makes $125,000 versus $150,000 seems like a fortune when you have little money (or it’s your money). The difference in talent and experience can be significant and worth the additional spending. With the right team member, it will unlock more than $25,000 in value. Multiple times during IncentOne I got this wrong. We were anxious to fill key roles. When we saw what we thought was the right candidate, we jumped, but not for the best candidate, but for the candidate that was good, but cheap. I underpaid for executives. This was my money and saving $25,000 per year on a salesperson, CFO, or head of client services seemed important. If I could do it over, I would hire the more expensive leader.

Don’t get me wrong, spending more is no guarantee of success, but I knew I was passing on better candidates because of cost. When you talk to people that have created multiple successful startups, and ask them their secret, many of them say, 'I found a great team and once we did it once, we knew we could do it again and again.'"


3. Be Wary of Strategists

Michael Dermer, Founder of IncentOne and The Lonely Entrepreneur

"Thinking is easy, executing is hard. You and I could come up with a great business idea, but only few can execute it. Except for the few that love execution, as people advance in their careers, they generally become tired of execution and steer toward “strategy” and “strategic thinking.” How many people at the age of fifty love getting their hands dirty, building plans, tracking activity and holding people accountable? In a perfect world, you would have separate people that think strategy and that execute. In early stages, you can’t afford that. When you hire experienced people, make sure you ask them this: 'Tell me about your desire to build process and structure and execute.' If they answer 'I am willing to get my hands dirty,' move on. If they say 'I love building businesses' or 'I love watching a team gel,' consider them. You need people that 'love to' and not ones that are 'willing to.' 

I hired many people (especially those that came from larger companies) that said they were willing to get in the trenches but when push came to shove, that meant they expected their teams to get in the trenches. Many times at larger companies leaders have teams that get in the weeds. In a younger company, you need leaders to help build the structure of the business – and to like it."

4. Start with a probation period

Ateeq Malik, CEO of Stallion Tech

"I had to hire some engineers, so I visited universities and conducted interviews with new graduates. The students' resumes were not oriented for a specific job. Their resumes were saying, 'just give us a job irrespective of what skill set is required for this job.' They were expecting for high salaries on their first job without any fine deliverable. I learned that employers should try not to be very open in any hiring process, put specific filters on advertisements and resumes, and also never ever hire any employee without having it on probation period, because this will help employer to figure out the best employee and will give a chance to employee to prove ability. Hire them as an intern and then upgrade them as a full employee after evaluating their performance."


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4 Key Hacks for Hiring First Employees

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