Hiring on a Shoestring

Hiring on a Shoestring

Bringing an employee on board is no simple task. In fact it’s a balancing act in which you have to weigh up at least these three variables: (i) finding the candidate with the right skills, (ii) the time needed for training and (iii) availability of financial resources to attract and retain such a candidate.

What are the options you are on a tight budget?

Interns are often willing to work in return for references and valuable on-the-job experience rather than for a monetary wage. The positive side of this is you get work done with no cash outlay, you can feel good about furthering someone’s career and there’s also a good chance that your talented intern will end up as a valued full-time member of your team. On the down side, interns who lack experience (possibly a majority of them) will need a lot of guidance, i.e. a lot of your valuable time. There could also be issues with limited availability, not to mention the risk of interns leaving at short notice because they find a paying job or deciding to go back to school.

Entry level employees may have a higher skillset, require less guidance and be less likely to quit unexpectedly. Many of them would also welcome the opportunity of working in an entrepreneurial environment where they could try their hand at different disciplines and enhance their professional profile. However, their initial output is likely to be low—and it’s you who’ll be paying for that.

Experienced mid-tier employees can be among the hardest to bring on board; not only because of cost but also because of their reasonable concerns about job security in a firm that hasn’t established itself in the industry yet. That said, as a boot-strapped organization, the chances are you won’t need any mid-tier workers in the near future. And by the time you do, you should have no difficulty affording them.

Executive/upper management. At this level there are even fewer options. You might be able to persuade someone to work for you for equity and/or use deferred or minimal payment. Prior to going this route it’s wise to review your current skill set and determine where you are in the life cycle of both the company and the product in order to decide whether you really need a team member of this caliber. For example if you still have months of work ahead in developing the product, bringing in a VP of Sales at this stage is liable to be an unnecessary expense. If you decide to move forward don’t skip on the necessary due diligence as this can have a significant impact on your growing organization moving forward.

Other options

Consider setting up hourly or project-based engagements with professionals. This way you’ll be able to manage costs and be sure of getting a job done well by a professional who will require little or no supervision. The same approach can work with accounting, lead-gen, legal or similar tasks. For design and copywriting work too, crowdsourcing is a great idea. It can also provide a marvelous opportunity to evaluate prospective employees prior to bringing them on board if that option exists. Apart from saving on the payroll, you won’t have to invest in a new computer or find additional office space.

Friends, relatives, and professional networks can come in very handy as well. They can allow you to brainstorm; they can act as your future focus group, or maybe even as your future client. Friends, relatives, and professional peers who believe in your cause will usually be more than willing to help out. For example if you can’t afford to hire an expensive UI design outfit right away and this is something you need, find people you know who would be willing to go through your pilot, point out issues to you and tell you how they would want the application to work—a free and very informative focus study.

There are many resources available on attracting the right candidates for a startup experience with LinkedIn and your local college job board topping the list. There are also specialized such as angel.co, workinstartups.com and others.


By Rachel Lyubovitzky, playground4abi.blogspot.com

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