Tips for Overcoming Early HR Hurdles

Of all the struggles you'll face as an entrepreneur, hiring, training and managing employees is one of the biggest. Here are some tips for clearing your startup's way of HR obstacles.

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By Steve Goodman

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On the road to entrepreneurship, you're sure to face many hurdles -- biggest of all is often HR.

Between finding talent and hiring staffers to training employees and managing their productivity, the time you spend on human resources can be a significant drain on any fledgling startup. Moreover, if you do make a wrong move, that distraction can not only affect your small company's culture it could also harm your business. Think about how productive you'd be if you had to devote copious minutes to smoothing over employee strife.

The best way to create continuity in your organization -- and save yourself some anguish in the process -- is to hire people for the long term who can add immediate value to your company. But one's ability shouldn't be the only factor.

Here are a couple of other key considerations to make before biting the hiring bullet:

Ensure the fit, before you buy.
Attaining a culture fit should also be a top priority. Passing on a fantastic engineer or a stellar business-development manager because they won't mix well with others at the company can be a smart business decision. Yet, seeing if a candidate is a good culture fit is harder to determine in a 30-minute interview than skill qualifications. Once a person's expert skill level is identified, make time to ask questions about the job seekers' experiences have would relate to your company's culture.

Related: Biggest Mistakes: Skillshare on Knowing Your Strengths -- And Weaknesses (Video)

Of course, you'll also need to have already identified the cultural nuances of your company. Hiring to that mold is the surest way to build a sustainable and productive workforce. For example, if your core employees are music enthusiasts, beer drinkers or pride themselves on being fashion forward, don't just consider it a trend. Perhaps they enjoy weekly team activities after work. Perhaps most of your employees work odd hours, work from home or like to communicate exclusively on Skype vs. email. You may not want to hire a candidate who prefers face time.

Take your time to tease out cultural fit. If possible, have team members spend time with the candidate outside of the office.

#insert RSS here#

If it's broken, fix it.
Obviously, you're trying to hire people because you need help. But don't sacrifice quality for bodies. Often when you make quick hiring decisions, you're hiring minimally-qualified people too. You know they're not perfect for the role but you pull the trigger anyway.

But that's a flawed strategy. Because time is your scarcest resource, you don't have the hours, let alone the resources, to train new employees. You also don't have the time to "hope" that they will bring immediate value to your business.

Related: Quirky Startup Perks: 'A Mating Call' for Tech Talent?

That's not to suggest that many employees don't grow into their positions. The problem is, as a startup, you're running against the clock and don't have time to know if they will blossom into their roles. You're better off waiting for the best candidate.

In Silicon Valley, there's a saying that one great engineer is better for a company than six mediocre ones. At early-stage businesses, this adage applies beyond the engineering department.

What other early-stage hiring tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section.

Steve Goodman

Steve is a technology entrepreneur with more than 15 years of CEO experience in Silicon Valley. Together with Eduardo Vivas, Bright's founder, Steve provides the strategy, direction and vision for He was the founder of Plum District (backed by Kleiner Perkins, General Catalyst and Comcast), PacketTrap (backed by August Capital and acquired by Quest Software), Lasso Logic (backed by Outlook Ventures and acquired by SonicWALL) and Learning Productions (acquired by SkillSoft). Steve earned his M.S. in Computer Science from George Washington University.

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