How To Recruit For A Start-Up

Recruitment Advice

Start-up business’ can be an exciting adrenaline rush; you’re your own boss and you’ve put the work in to get here. At times, your judgement may be clouded by the excitement, especially when you have to think about the future of your company and what route it will take, dictated by your long-term goals.

It is hard work enough to get a start-up off the ground and running successfully. A key metric that makes up that work is deciding when the time is right to hire your first employee.

If you’re thinking that you need to employ a new individual in order to increase workflow and value to your company, then give this a quick read to make sure it is the right time.

How have you made the decisions thus far in successfully building your start-up?

Deep level analysis? Entrepreneurial intuition? Sheer luck? Perhaps a combination of all three.

As a founder, you need to be able to make decisions that best affect the company. However, you also want to keep in mind the ethos, morals, and goals of what you wanted to achieve when you first started.

Hiring new staff isn’t quite as easy as holding a few carefree interviews at the office, or in a coffee shop. The complexities surrounding the complicated procedure in hiring can sometimes be enough to make you think again about hiring.

If you keep reading this guide, we will give you insight into whether it truly is the right time to hire new staff, keeping in mind company resources at your current stage of development, your mission statement as well as the culture you want to keep consistent. Remember, your first employee is a representative of your company and everything that has been built thus far. Is it always about who is the best at a job for the lowest price? Keep reading to find out…

You’ve got this far on your own, will others slow you down?

Objectively speaking, one must be the right type of entrepreneur and founder to successfully employ new staff. The whole premise of a start-up is the built upon the fact you started this venture on your own. You made all the decisions on your own that has led you to where you are today. That’s great! But if you’re not ready to let go of some of that authority, then perhaps, you need to rethink your strategy.

Having responsibility over other employees and ensuring that they are adding value to your company is an added pressure. They could make mistakes, not do things exactly the way you want, but also, they are now helping to build you company, something you previously only did on your own. It can take some adjustment.

If you find that you are a detail-orientated boss and need to be hands on with everything on a day-to-day business, it is likely you will incur burnout. Through a good hiring strategy that ensures you’ve selected the right person in line with your company goals, you will feel comfortable knowing that the decisions that individual makes will affect the company in one way or another.

On the flip side, there are many positives that come out of hiring an employee. If you’re a wealth-orientated businessperson, hiring the best people for the job that are well-experienced can essentially pave the way to your business’ success without much input from yourself. As a caveat, you wouldn’t be able to have as much control over the entirety of the business, however, you may be able to see your profits increase and your personal workload decrease.

Therefore, as an entrepreneur who is looking to build a company, you must decide what kind of company you are building, as well as what type of founder you want to be. If you want to be hands-on with absolutely everything, it may become rather unpleasant to hand over control of the details to other employees. But it also comes with its benefits of having the ability to make all the decisions. Likewise, if you’re not as knowledgeable in a certain area, hiring staff who make it their job to be experts in a particular field could help propel your business to the next stage of development. Finally, if you’re able to let go of some of the workload whilst still receiving the perks of owning your own company, why not hire an employee?

Hiring To Generate Value

To put it simply, hiring new staff should serve only a single purpose: to generate value.

Your new employee, should you choose to hire one, needs to be able to generate more value than what they’re taking from the company in a salary.

Let’s think about the recent Covid-19 pandemic. How many staff were put onto a furlough scheme or job protection plan, and as a result were sent home to work. Companies have started to realise that they may have over hired, and that to generate more value, less can in fact be more.

Start-ups can be busy; it’s one of the reasons you started your own company. At times, you may feel that the fast-approaching deadlines are unmanageable or there is not enough time in the day. Perhaps, you’ve felt that if you had an additional staff member, it might help.

But is that adding more value? Or simply just taking the pressure off. There are many strategies that one can employ in order to time manage more effectively, such as prioritising, freelancers or hire contractors.

Think about the question: will your new employee add extra value?


A freelancer is a self-employed individual who works for different companies on a variety of projects. Essentially, it is outsourcing the work that you need completed to other individuals, without bringing them into the company full-time.

It is a great way to lift a load off of your shoulders so that you can focus on the core aspects of the business without the distractions.

You might just want to test the waters before diving straight into employing full time people into your business.

The Laws

It isn’t quite as simple as telling someone they’ve got the job before they start on a new venture with your business. There are in fact many different basics that need to be covered to make sure you’re doing everything legally, both for your protection as well as the potential employee.

  • Payroll
  • Health and Safety
  • HR
  • Insurance
  • Contracts

Firstly, no-one likes tax. But it is one of those things in life that need to be done. You need to be set up with HMRC and ensure that you’re complying with tax regulations whilst you’re paying someone.

If you work in an office, or even working at home to an extent, as a boss you must ensure the well-being of all your staff. That means ensuring they are working in a safe environment and not at risk of any injury.

What do you do if they’re not working to your expectations? Traditionally, HR is the place to go. They can put all types of things on your employment record including the right to dismiss you. Essentially, they are the safety net for all employee’s should disagreements go wrong. You need to make sure you have HR policies in place before your new employee starts. If you’re not sure what this means, you need to hire an expert that can help you. (Guru work closely with many freelance HR Consultants so let us know if you need a recommendation).

Employers Liability Insurance will need to be taken out. It is linked to health and safety measures but by definition it: “covers you and your business for compensation costs if an employee becomes ill or injured as a result of the work, they do for you.”

Finally, you must have an employment contract in place for your new hire. They must be given a written contract within 8-weeks of employment by law. As stated previously, if you’re not sure how to do this, research or hire.

This government checklist on hiring people for the first time is also a solid starting point for what you need to consider.

The Hiring Process

You’ve gone through all the stages of this post and still you’re sure that a new employee is right for you.

But there are a few bullet points that need to be considered when hiring a new staff member especially within the interview stages:

  1. Are they an expert in a single skill or more of a generalist?
  2. Do they align with your company ethos and goals?
  3. Be honest during the interview stages regarding the companies’ stage of development.
  4. Don’t rush the decision, visit all candidates, and select which one you think is a right fit.
  5. Can you afford this new employee?

Don’t be afraid to review and speak to a broad range of candidates, the process of hiring and liaising with a broad range of people can provide some key insight that might help you to shape your job description.

Guru’s sustainable recruitment service is ideal for start-ups, it provides an agency level service at the cost of advertising on a job board.

Expect Tough Competition

With excess of 1.6 million live jobs advertised at any one time (REC 2021) getting your vacancies seen (let alone filled) can be a daunting prospect, therefore it’s important to do your research. Create a job description to understand what skills, duties and experience is needed, then research this to understand what the right job titles and ad copy should say (Guru can always provide free advice on this if needed).

It’s likely competition will be tough, however, leverage selling points that are unique to your business and start-ups in general. To win over the best candidates you’ll need to really stand-out, answer the following questions and include the answers in your job advertising and communications with candidates.

Is your culture vibrant and innovating?
For the right candidate is equity available?
How could the right candidate progress?
How flexible is the working environment?
What can you offer that larger companies cannot?


Only you as an entrepreneur and business owner will know whether it is the right time to add new staff members to your company. In short, you must be hiring to add further value to your company and not simply because it’s what you think you should do at your current stage of development.

If you’ve come to the end of this post and haven’t yet reached a conclusion or are still unsure, it’s probably an indicator that you can keep going on your own for a little bit longer.

Contact Guru to find out how we can help you hire amazing talent on a start-up budget.