How to overcome the worry of the first HIRES when setting up a business

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It is a norm for entrepreneurs to fail in producing a viable business idea or ideas that aren’t operationally feasible, yet it has never been a norm for them to lose hope and give up on their Ideas.  Why do Entrepreneurs give up? It’s when they consistently fail to recruit their first hire rightfully. Why is it that hard?

Entrepreneurs drive all their efforts and resources on the planning phase in setting up a product, market study, or finding funds,  yet they never devote equal focus on a sourcing and selecting process of their SWAT-Team who are expected to put an idea on its feet.

Let us take an example on this, if your first 6 months business plan is to have 2 resources in place  , then screwing up in 1 hire out of 2 means that 50% of your business is screwed up which is expected that this broken half will never let you sail toward success. So imagine you fail in all your first hires.

Here are 5 Guidelines to help you manage the First Hires successfully:

1- Look for people who worked and performed well in changing environments such as high uncertainty, fast growth, change in managements, expanded geographically, downsized then grew,  total revamp of their products, or companies who had no rigid structure or process where people operate under full autonomy. This type of people will fit in the entrepreneurial culture as your product will change, certain markets might be re-prioritized, their reporting lines will change, and no process or structure to follow as people are requested to improvise and work with full autonomy.

2- Look for these 3 Top Traits during your interviews:

  • Hardworking: It is never an old school and has proven that it’s the most effective recipe for success. Until your business become mature and uncertainty is eliminated, working hard is the only path until you reach operational excellence and you start working smartly. Seek for accomplishment from candidates on clear hardworking examples so you understand their definition of hardworking.
  • Curiosity: People with curiosity tend to explore and investigate better than others. They never settle on how things usually function. They will always try to stamp their names on new ways of working.
  • Ethics: As much as you want your first hires to be hard workers who always challenge the status quo to produce a standing out products, you want people to come from a proven record of ethics and professionalism. You want people who they never represented their previous employers in inappropriate manner. This is worth the time to target a minimum of 3 references to check on the selected candidate. You may need to ask the reference to describe the relationship of the candidate with their colleagues, boss and customers.

3- Assess and examine skills through a test or home assignment: irrespective of how much excited you got during the interview; all candidates can potentially surprise you when they sit on a test. Candidates should be subjected to a thorough assessments on a written communication skills exercise, handling a client problem in writing, roleplaying a situational/behavioural set of questions, and most importantly an exercise that can weight their calculation/common sense skills. The next step is easy, your future employees will perform exactly the way they did during assessment. The assessments are usually the most realistic reflection of candidates’ business acumen.

4- Set performance management metrics from day 1 for early identification of bad fit: Despite the autonomy we must give to our people to do things their way, yet a monthly review on clear OUTCOME metrics must be in place. The performance must reflect an evolving path toward the 6th month of review where it is the time to judge either to de-hire the team member or to continue to invest and grow.

5- Promote Customer Centricity from day 1 and introduce Values that address it: Customers pay our salaries and they must be heard, understood and taken care of. The otherwise is a failing culture irrespective of the greatness of the product. When people live these values, this customer centricity culture will keep clients coming and people will be engaged around this exciting value.

In the entrepreneurship journey and when setting up a business, it is recommended to take decisions with no delay. Be slow when hiring and fast when dis-engaging.