12 Characteristics to Look for in Early-Stage Hires

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Getting the details right is especially important for newer businesses. What is the #1 characteristic you look for when onboarding a new hire at an early stage company and why is it so important?

New hires
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These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only organization made up of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. More information at yec.co.

1. Self-sufficiency

When hiring a new hire at an early-stage company, make sure they are self-sufficient. In other words, can they perform daily tasks without someone looking over their shoulder? If so, they are probably ideal for your company. New business owners rarely have time to micromanage and track every task, which is why freelancers are extremely helpful.

– Damanjeet Singh, FunnelKit

2. Adaptability

Adaptability and flexibility are critical characteristics for anyone joining a team in the early stages. With any new business, priorities and processes can change quickly, and even culture can evolve. New hires must be willing and able to change direction quickly and effectively without much hand-wringing from leadership.

– Samuel Saxton, ConsumerRating.org

3. Ingenuity

Find someone who has resources. While you’re still building relationships with suppliers, standard operating procedures, and internal staff, it’s important that new hires at an early-stage company are adaptable enough to find the right resources to solve problems quickly without letting the little things sink into great obstacles. Resourceful people will dramatically increase productivity.

– Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep mattress

4. Enthusiasm

I’m looking for enthusiasm. The workload in a startup is unpredictable and diverse, and only employees who are excited about growing both the business and their careers can thrive in this environment. Therefore, I assess candidates’ intrinsic motivation as much as their skills and knowledge during recruitment.

– Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

Learn about the new industry before changing careers

5. Curiosity

One of the characteristics I look for when recruiting new members is curiosity. I want my team members to be curious. I believe that curious people are smarter, more innovative, and smarter than those who are not. They often have the will and desire to learn and understand more about everything.

– Andrew Munro, AffiliateWP

6. One unit to win

In the early stages of a startup, there are so many challenges and obstacles that it’s important to hire employees who want to win. This drive helps them to be motivated and optimistic, and when there are challenges, they are more than willing to make things happen. I also look for people who are coachable. Generally, these people are adaptable and quick learners.

– Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

7. The ability to thrive in an informal environment

What I’m looking for is someone who thrives in a casual environment. This means they like to work in a place without formal titles or strict hierarchies. A new hire must communicate well and collaborate with others, even if that means going beyond their primary role and responsibilities. This is important because it ensures that the new hire can hit the ground running and help achieve success for everyone.

– Blair Williams, MemberPress

8. A proactive mindset

Proactive employees have a growth mindset. They learn quickly and are eager to find creative solutions to projects on their own rather than relying solely on instructions. Also, they have great potential to rise quickly within the organization due to their enthusiasm and willingness to take risks and deliver results.

– Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.

Customer involvement
Photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

9. The ability to communicate well

Someone who is a good communicator is able to bring out the best in people. They are able to lead and get people on board with ideas. They use their words to build consensus and to explain what they need and when they need it.

– Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc.

10. Willingness to ask questions

A willingness to ask questions is an important characteristic I value in a new hire, especially when we’re working on something new, like a startup or emerging technology. A person who asks questions is someone who reflects. They will be less likely to make mistakes and will also learn more. This also shows that they communicate well, which makes them invaluable to early-stage companies.

– Syed Balkhi, WPB Beginner

11. A “Go-Getter” Attitude.

In an early-stage company, I would prefer to have enthusiastic people join my team. To make an impact, you would need a team that is action-oriented and gets the job done on time. This would ensure that the set results are on track and that we are making steady progress towards our goal. To begin with, a company cannot afford any delays. So, a bossy attitude would be an essential characteristic for me when hiring.

– Jared Atchison, WPForms

12. Passion

Each person you recruit to build your first team should be well aligned with the company’s ideologies and larger goals. Skills are important, but you can always upgrade a person’s skills when needed. There is no compromise when it comes to your passion and dedication to the cause of the company. Get it right and you’ll have a team that pulls together to make the business a success from day one.

– Bryce Welker, Big 4 Accounting Firms

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