Staffing Your Start-Up: How and Where to Find Top Talent

Business.com / Hiring / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Hiring your first employees can be one of the most stressful times for a fledging startup. Tips for your unique needs inside!

There are many milestones of success every new business achieves in its earliest days.

The first customer to walk through your doors. The first dollar earned. The first bank deposit.

It is often these little milestones that keep many new entrepreneurs encouraged during these challenging days of uncertainty when they've put so much on the line to be business owners.

One of the top milestones new businesses experience is getting to the point where there is finally a need to hire employees. With many start-ups never outgrowing the small bedroom office they started in, this milestone says your start-up is growing and beginning to thrive. Bringing that first employee on is a big deal for any new business.

Related Article: Going Millennial: The Perks of Hiring Generation Y

Where then do you go to find the best employees for your new business venture? Finding and keeping top talent for any new business can be nerve racking for entrepreneurs. Most start-ups don't have much to offer employees in the way of benefits. Sometimes the only benefit a start-up can offer is experience and a low wage. Don't let this deter you if it is true for your business. There are many potential employees that will jump at the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new business. Especially one that shows potential for growth and expansion.

The question then is where do we find the go-getters who aren't afraid to risk working for a company that probably can't afford to even offer health insurance? There's actually plenty of such candidates to choose from if you just know where to look. Some of the best talent can be found at local universities, temp agencies, and dare I say it, by asking family and friends.

Let's take a look at a few possibilities for locating the best candidates.

Local Colleges and Universities

Most start-ups, in the beginning, need employees to do a variety of repetitive tasks like invoicing, entering sales into the accounting system, or boxing merchandise for shipment. The local community college or university is a great place to find motivated employees to fill these rolls. Looking for someone to help keep the books? 

Call the accounting department at the college and speak with one of the professors. Tell her you are looking for someone who might be interested in some part-time work who is a natural with numbers. I recall several occasions when I was in college when my professors would inform the class about local companies looking to hire temporary employees for large projects. There are many students who would appreciate the opportunity to gain some real-world experience in their chosen field and to earn a little extra money.

Not all small businesses are looking for office personnel at first. Some businesses may require employees with a more specific skill set. Take a new construction business for example. It can be difficult to find tradesmen who have the skills and knowledge necessary who will work with your level of compensation. This is another great opportunity to reach out to the local trade schools. 

Ask someone in the desired department who works closely with the students and can vouch for them. You can always hire them on a temporary basis to find out if they will be a good fit for the company.

Temp Agencies and Staffing Companies

Temp agencies and staffing companies are also great places to find people eager to work in your start-up business. These companies do all of the hard work of screening applicants, drug testing them (if you so desire), checking their references, and testing their skills in office and other software applications. One of the great things about using these agencies is that the people they have available are people who are ready and available for work. As in, they can start today, if needed.

An advantage of using a staffing agency is that you do not have to worry about providing any benefits to your employees or have to deal with workers comp insurance. The employees are technically employees of the staffing agency. This means you pay the staffing agency directly. The agency takes a cut and then pays the remainder to the employee.

Related Article: Hiring for Attitude Over Experience: What the Numbers Show

The primary disadvantage to using a staffing agency is the fact that you will have to pay more per hour for an employee then you otherwise would have to pay if you hired someone directly.

Some small companies may initially be put off by this, but when you factor in the fact that the agency is taking care of the employee's workers comp insurance, benefits, and all of the other headaches that usually go along with having employees, the extra you pay the agency may be worth it.

Friends and Family

Some people really go out of their way to avoid hiring friends and family in their businesses. After all, why mess up a perfectly good relationship with someone by becoming their boss? But using friends and family for some things may be a good idea in some instances. It really just depends on the type of work that needs to be done.

If your business has some work that can be done remotely (like data entry or bookkeeping), a friend or family member who would like to earn a little extra spending money might jump at the chance to do this work.

Don't forget the neighborhood kid! Most teens will jump at the chance to earn extra spending money. And they often work cheap, too.

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