Employ the Talent
Without Breaking the Bank
By Kim Hahn
people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, tempted by the freedom,
flexibility, and sense of accomplishment that come with creating a
thriving business. If you’re one of these dreamers, hoping to take
turn your “big idea” into a successful company, one of the first
realities you’ll need to confront is that getting your business off
the ground will likely take more money than you have, and more
employees than you can afford.
businesses require outside talent. A surefire way to fail is to
believe that you can perform every task yourself, and perform it
well. The last thing you want is to be in business without the
talent you need to succeed. The challenge is to attract and retain
this talent without paying more than you can afford. It’s a delicate
balance, but it can work to everyone’s advantage if you think
outside the box and offer enticements beyond a simple paycheck.
Here are ten tips for getting the talent you need on a start-up
1. Put Together An Advisory Board: Think of this as a group of
diversely talented people who you would love to hire but can’t
afford to. Once you’ve identified your company’s needs, find
individuals who have the talent, insight, and most of all
experience to help you succeed. Then you have to convince these
people to share their insights with you. Often people will volunteer
their time if they’re passionate about you and your cause. Other
times you may need to offer cash or stock in exchange for an
agreement to attend your meetings and share knowledge.
2. Outsource Jobs: Many jobs are very specific and require
highly educated employees. That kind of expertise generally demands
a large salary. But you probably won’t need all of these experts all
of the time. You may be able to find outside firms or consultants to
handle this workload, charging you only for the time and services
you require. Or, if you know you’re going to need the same talent
all of the time, but only on a part-time basis, you can put firms or
individuals on a retainer.
3. Offer Bigger Titles: Titles are very important to a lot of
people. Offering a title —and obviously it has to be a title your
employee can substantiate — can be a big motivator, encouraging
staff to gain skills and work harder.
4. Hire People Ready to Move Up to the Next Level: Find talented
individuals who’ve been in your industry for a while, who are
currently employed just a level or so below the position you are
hiring for. If you can identify the people who are ready to move up,
you can end up with a high performer who is happy to work for less
than peak salary for the position.
5. Give Out Stock: Awarding stock or stock options is a great
trade off for cash compensation. Most people are interested in
building wealth, and they like the idea of sharing in the success of
the company they work for. This is a great incentive for your most
senior employees. Who doesn’t wish they had worked for Microsoft at
6. Offer Flex Time: Balancing family and career has become
crucially important for many people, both women and men. Gone are
the days when employees wanted to work 9 to 5, or assumed they’d
have to. If you can offer flexible schedules, you’ll reap the
benefits of this arrangement tenfold. Employees tend to work harder
when they know they’re being trusted to balance their lives and
their careers without being asked to punch a clock.
Accept Offsite Workers: Being able to work from home, or even
from another state, can be a great benefit to someone who doesn’t
want to move, or would prefer not to have to come in to an office
every day. These options are negotiating chips that can be offered
in place of salary dollars. If the cost of living is lower in the
offsite location than it is where your business is headquartered,
you can save even more.
Find Employees Who Can Wear Multiple “Hats”: When organizing
your company, look to see where there are jobs that have similar
skill sets, and then try to merge those positions. For example, your
office manager will most likely have great organizational skills, so
you may want to look to this person to handle basic accounting and
record keeping, and even assist with project management.
Defer Compensation: There’s no rule saying you have to offer
someone a fully loaded salary up front, before seeing what they can
do. Offer a lower base salary with the promise of regular salary
increases over time. This delay can give you the time to build your
business and the revenue you need to support it. You can also offer
benefits increases and one-time bonuses for meeting performance
Offer Work to Students or Interns: Students and interns can be
great resources, especially if their work for you is part of a
graduate level program. These young people are hungry for
experience, and will offer their services for very little or even no
money. Many schools run their own programs, and are looking for
projects to give their students real-life experience. Sometimes
professors oversee their students, and in this case you are, in
effect, getting the expertise of the professor for free.
Starting a company is a very creative
process, and as an entrepreneur you must continually think outside
of the box if you want to survive. Just remember, the universe is
full of resources: You just have to believe you have the power to
make them yours!
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