Description: What’s the key to transforming your business from a humble startup to an employer of 100+ people? From the background checks you should run to the experience you should look for, we cover key strategies to keep in mind.
In 2012, Forbes published an article titled, “How to Build a $100 Million Business in Two Years,” profiling an entrepreneur who had accomplished just that. Needless to say, everyone who ever starts a business—or even entertains the notion of starting a business—dreams of having that kind of fast-track success. However, while you might think first of how much money you want to be making in two years, five years, ten years, etc., revenue growth is not the only factor you need to consider as your company expands. To grow your business into a $100 million enterprise, you also need to add a lot of people.
Adding employees, adding revenue, and adding to your valuation are all things that, in an ideal situation, go in hand in hand. For your company to be worth more money, you need to make more money. To make more money, you need to close more sales and do more business. To do more business, you probably need more people. For that reason, we aren’t going to focus on growing your business from a $0 valuation to a $100 million valuation. Rather, we are going to focus on growing your company from a one- or two-employee startup to an established 100-employee business. Here’s how to manage the evolution so you get the results you want.
Know When to Start Running Background Checks
In the earliest stages of running a startup, you probably didn’t even think of running background checks. Sure, employee screenings are commonplace in most businesses these days. But when you start a new venture, you are probably working exclusively (or almost exclusively) with people you know personally. Maybe your business partners are friends you met in college; perhaps they are relatives; or maybe they are people you met at a networking event in Silicon Valley and got to know better later on. There’s certainly something to be said for not getting into business with someone you don’t know well, but most entrepreneurs won’t collaborate on a startup with anyone they don’t know and trust anyway.
With all of that said, you need to know when it’s time to start running background checks on your new employees. As you grow, you will need to hire new people to handle the workload and maintain efficiency. Bringing in new blood is not only important to keep ideas and excitement flowing, but also to scale your business over time.
Whether you are hiring an intern, a part-timer, or a full-time team member, the rule is this: when you reach the point at which you are hiring people outside of your inner circle, you need to start running background checks. Criminal history checks are part of the deal, here. You can’t afford an instance of bad press or increased liability due to the reckless or illegal actions of an employee. Running criminal screenings is one way to reduce the risk of something like that happening.
You should also run checks to verify the resumes of the people you hire. For startups, the phrase, “time is money” really is true. You don’t have time to train new employees in the CMS your company uses, teach them how to make sales, proofread their website content, or check their coding work. You need to be able to hire someone in whom you have full confidence, who can hit the ground running and do the job in question right. Verifying education and work history are musts if you want that kind of peace of mind.
Early On, Look for Startup Experience
One of the most valuable pieces of insight provided in the Forbes article is to hire people who have experience working for startups. The entrepreneur at the center of the profile—Meena Mansharamani, of “squeezable applesauce brand” GoGo squeeZ—noted that applicants without startup experience might not be prepared for the fast-paced work environment or the time-consuming nature of the job.
Startup ventures are “all hands on deck” affairs at all times, at least for the first few years. As a result, you need to be aware that you can’t offer the best work-life balance in the world, and you need to find employees who are ready and happy to accept that fact. Startup experience obviously won’t be a make or break resume feature for the lifetime of your business. However, in the hectic early days, it is a huge plus.
Passion is the Secret Ingredient
Startup experience isn’t enough to guarantee that the people you are hiring are going to be great assets for your growing business. Neither are good credentials, clean backgrounds, and resumes free of any embellishments or inaccuracies. No one characteristic of an applicant can ensure that you are making the right hiring decision, but passion might come the closest. Ask yourself: why would a great applicant be willing to accept a job with long hours, a hectic and stressful atmosphere, and a salary that is probably lower than what they could get elsewhere? The answer is passion. People who believe in what your company is doing often make the best employees. Their enthusiasm will carry them through the tough hours and inspire them to overcome challenges.
Passion is also instrumental in keeping employees around for the long term. You don’t want people who view a job with your company as a stepping stone. You want people who are in it for the long haul, who will be there as your business grows and (hopefully) finds success. Employee turnover is costly regarding both resources and time, and startups can’t afford to absorb those expenses. So look for passionate people. You will be able to get from two employees to 100 much faster if you can avoid unnecessary turnover. Of course, you will still have to play your part by creating an engaging and rewarding work environment that will attract and keep those passionate new hires.
Author Bio: Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.