Well shocking to some, I eventually became a co-founder of a successful services startup and leading a team while tending to the needs of a company. It is like feeding a family with a never ending thirst - tiring, exciting, terrifying and more from both sides of the emotional spectrum. Through this, I have learned a few things about trying to hire and keep employees while on a slightly better than a startup budget:
- Employees still in school is catch 22. How do you weigh being flexible to their schedules while trying to retain reliability/consistency within an organisation?
- Employees are a reflection of myself and the other co-founder. We may not be perfect individuals, but our goals and the image of the company reflect on our brand; employees need to reflect this to a certain extent. For example, if the company is fast moving and covering several large technology territories - the employee may need to be studying hard, just like us. Should their relationships suffer like ours or take the compromises we chose? No, but on the contrary, but sometimes you need to work past 5 or 6PM
- Offering a chance of growth or a clear path of career advancement - isn't worth it. If an employee shows up and wants this already, they will seek it on their own. Don't use it as an incentive as you may end up deceiving yourself
- Payroll and cash. It's pretty hard to compete against contenders that pay more for salaries or offer sweet benefits. The older more experienced workforce might have a better time knowing what is "good enough" and the younger ones seem to struggle with this (e.g. my friend Bob makes 70K, why don't I?)
- Managing scope creep is a battle. Sometimes the best laid plans get side-tracked when the cash is good or the client is big enough and you need to "jump" when told
- Keeping true to your vision. If my vision is X, don't get away from it.
- Cut the fat if your business is being poisoned by others or waning desire to be apart of the team. Sometimes this requires buying out a partner who isn't delivering or wants to be apart of the team anymore.
- If the company needs your expertise and its hard to share/delegate, rough times are ahead. No joke, trying to get gold out of bronze may be possible, but if your employees are unable to see the bigger vision or the effect of their changes, it will consume your time. Monitor your assistance and factor it into your billing strategy. E.g., for every hour Bob works, I end up supervising X minutes. Lets bill that.
Comment below if you have other lessons learned. I will keep updating this as time progresses