At the start of your entrepreneurship journey, you might wonder 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.
Before 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 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 can’t offer the same safety and security as a big company. However, she gave 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, 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 you, but with different skills from you,” she summarised.
- Write honest job descriptions. This will ensure you hire the best person for the job. Also, the potential employee will know exactly what they’re signing up for. Creating a very human job description is vital, according to Alexandra. She 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 avoid unpleasant surprises for candidates.
- Work on your employer brand. “This point is specifically important for small businesses,” stressed Alexandra, as they won’t have the fame to attract potential employees. Be sure your brand and image accurately reflect you and your business and are 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 advantages. “Flexibility and the opportunity to grow are the secrets to attracting the best candidates,” told Alexandra. Both 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 directly.
When Is the Right Time to Hire?
We asked Alexandra when she started hiring for her venture and if she thought there was an ideal time to start recruiting. She quickly replied: “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, ensure you are in the right mindset. “When you hire for the first time, 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 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 to start hiring, ensure you are doing so inclusively. “For the long term, you need a diverse team. You can’t just keep hiring people very similar to you,” explained Alexandra. You will lose out on interesting ideas, experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Alexandra’s mission is to help mothers reconvert or come back to work. We asked her why it was 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 the remote contract can also be incredibly beneficial. Mothers often need time to figure out how to manage working hours, so a flexible employer is essential.
As such, everybody wins in making diverse hires!