If you’re early on in your entrepreneurship journey, you might be wondering how to ensure you are hiring properly, and making diverse hires. Luckily for you, we sat down with Alexandra Badea, a seasoned entrepreneur and former HR manager, who gave us her tips to succeed.
Alexandra started her first venture, an HR agency, eight years ago. She realised companies need a more human touch when it comes to recruitment. That’s one of the reasons some struggle to find the best candidates. “I’m a good connector,” she explained, and she loves to see what happens when you put the right people together.
Prior to starting her own business, Alexandra studied for a BA in psychology and an MA in HR. “I decided during my university studies that I’m not a good therapist because I love to see fast results, but obviously therapy takes time,” she jokingly said. “My way of helping people was to choose Human Resources.”
Currently, Alexandra is working on She is Mom, a venture she started two and a half years ago. It’s an educational platform bringing together mentors and entrepreneurs to help mums find professional opportunities. The serial entrepreneur is passionate about diversity, and is helping companies and start-ups walk the walk by making diverse hires.
Overcoming The Challenges of Hiring As a Start-Up
Alexandra recognises that there are many challenges to making your first hire as a start-up or small team. For a start, you are not able to offer the same safety and security as a big company. However, she revealed great advice to
- Create a vision. “When you’re a start-up, you have a lot of dreams, but you don’t know where you’ll end up,” Alexandra said. As such, it’s important to work on your vision and mission, and find someone who feels strongly about it. “To find the right person for your start-up, you need to find people with the same values as yours, but with different skills from you,” she summarised.
- Write honest job descriptions. This will help you ensure you hire the best person for the job, but also the potential employee, who will know exactly what they’re signing up for. Creating a very human job description is vital, according to Alexandra, who suggested creating a video about your team to advertise roles.
- Assign a budget for each role. As with any other part of your business, you should have set budgets for hiring. This will help you accurately project revenue, and will avoid any unpleasant surprises for candidates.
- Work on your employer brand. This point is especially important for small businesses, stressed Alexandra, as they won’t have the fame to attract potential employees. Your brand and image need to accurately reflect you and your business, and be attractive and approachable.
Be clear about the benefits. While working for a start-up might not offer the same high salaries and security as a job in a big company, there are plenty of benefits too. “Flexibility and the opportunity to grow are the secrets to attract the best candidates,” revealed Alexandra. Both of these are much easier to achieve in start-ups, where progression is generally faster than in large organisations. “In a big company there are a lot of bosses, managers and rules – it’s hard to get close to the CEO to see how things work,” she explained. In a small business, employees can learn from the CEO or founder themselves.
When Is the Right Time to Hire?
We asked Alexandra when she decided to start hiring for her venture, and if she thought there was an ideal time to start recruiting. She was quick to reply: “We are human, so sometimes it’s better to get help and have time to relax and reset.” When you work seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, it’s time to start hiring.
However, the entrepreneur also stressed the importance of waiting until you have the financial capacity to hire. Hiring is a big responsibility, she said, you have to take care of your employee, pay them on time, etc. As such, make sure you don’t rush your decision to start hiring; wait until you have steady revenue.
As well as being financially ready to hire, you need to make sure you are in the right mindset. “When you hire for the first time, you should be prepared to give away tasks you were doing yourself previously,” said Alexandra. It can be hard to share responsibilities when you’re used to being a one-person team. If you’re not ready to delegate, don’t hire.
Another option she outlined is working with student associations to provide students with short contracts or internships. This enables them to get valuable experience, and is a flexible and fixed-term hiring solution for you.
The Importance of Diverse Hires for Small Businesses
Once you’ve decided it’s time for you to start hiring, it is vital to ensure you are doing so inclusively. “For the long term, you need a diverse team. You can’t just keep hiring people who are very similar to you,” explained Alexandra. You will lose out on interesting ideas, experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Alexandra’s mission is specifically centred around mothers, helping them reconvert or come back to work. We asked her why it is a good idea to hire a mum.
“Mums are so grateful to get opportunities, so they try to do more in four hours than someone else would in eight hours,” Alexandra said. They’re used to hard work and time management, much-needed skills to get through motherhood.
For the employer, especially small businesses and start-ups, the option to hire on a fixed-term, reduced hours and remote contract can also be incredibly beneficial. Mothers often need time to figure out how they can manage working hours, so a flexible employer is key.
As such, there are no losers in making diverse hires!