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How to Build Your Start-Up Team: Part II

January 01, 2015
By Kelley Rexroad

In part one of this blog, I addressed questions I get from entrepreneurs about the first stages of building a team. Here in part two, I’d like to share my advice on other frequently asked questions related to hiring.

Q. What sort of employment contract should I offer? Should it be based on performance?

A. While contracts aren’t necessary, offer letters are key. You should be sure to define the position’s needs, the 90-day introductory period and the employment-at-will statement. And all work should be based on performance.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep – like saying they have a long career here – because if you fire them later, you have violated that promise. 

Q. Is it OK if we start by working virtually? Will that affect performance? I haven’t rented office space yet and prefer to wait.

A. Of course it’s OK, and there are several great virtual assistants you can engage. If performance standards are defined and you have the processes in place to stay on top of it, there shouldn’t be an issue – no matter where the person is working.  Virtual assistants have their own business.  They can help you make appointments, return calls, process invoices, make travel arrangements, keep your contacts up to date, create newsletters and even take care of social media or other items taking up your time.  You should be spending your time on the business, not in the business.

Q. What happens if I’m not happy and realize I hired the wrong person?

A. First, think about what you may have or have not done to contribute to the problem. If you realize it was due at least in part to something you did, you may want to meet to review performance standards and discuss how you’ll proceed differently – both the employee and you. There should be a timeframe of no more than 30 days to rectify the issue. This is key. I’ve seen too many people just fire a person, then re-hire and commit the same mistake. If you think there is or was a miscommunication, start with that.

If the person hired now needs to do a different job, you need to discuss that with him/her.  That’s one of the keys to hiring for attitude, especially in a start-up.  All hands all the time is the mantra for a start-up.  You may have a technically great person, but you should choose the person who is both really good technically and also has an over-the-top attitude to support the business.

If the person is clearly not performing, let them go. Don’t wait. Often business owners allow an employee to have every excuse for not arriving on time or not completing projects, or texting all day. If the person is not impressing you within the first few weeks with simple business tasks, the person is not for you.

Q. What do I need to know about workplace compliance issues?

A. Compliance starts with the first employee you hire. First, be sure that positions and employees are classified appropriately based on federal wage and hour guidelines. And if you think you can just forget all this and hire independent contractors, that’s probably not the answer because many times 1099ers are doing work that needs to be done, and they should be classified as employees.

During the recruitment process, follow a non-discriminatory interview process and know what interview questions you can and cannot ask. Once you hire, keep accurate time records and pay at least minimum wage and overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week (in Florida). I-9 compliance should be handled within 72 hours of their hire date.

Building a start-up team should be an exciting step in the entrepreneurial process. I hope my insights and advice help you feel better prepared and ready to meet your challenges.

Kelley Rexroad, SPHR, is the founder and principal consultant of krexconsulting, a Tampa, Florida-based firm that specializes in “people – the only resource that appreciates in business.” She is a consultant, coach, speaker and writer with experience in all areas of human resources in several industries, as well as with developing, turnaround and merger and acquisition situations. Kelley can be reached at kelley@krexconsulting.com or at 813-920-9030.