The June panel topic of Building Your Team -- Filling the Void generated a lot of interest with the audience. There were so many tips about what to do and what not to do that only a few of them are written here for you to apply to your business.
How do we acquire, identify, and keep talent? Use your extended network and organizations such as SPARK. Create a team with those you already know and trust like college classmates and friends. Ask a prospect to sign a release where former employers are allowed to share additional past performance information than what the current law permits. If the prospect objects, there may be a significant reason where you want to avoid hiring them. Define the culture for your firm and interview to find those who will be a good fit. Frequently model your company's core principles so employees know them by heart.
We have some money, now what? Decide if an employee or contractor is the best fit. Fill the skill gap by delegating more responsibilities away from the founders to the employees who are most skilled in fulfilling those responsibilities. Have a backup plan of who can fill certain positions if a vacancy occurs. Hire slowly, if given a choice. Treat your employees like partners and they will go the distance for you.
We are running out of money, now what? Have a basis of termination in writing so that expectations are set from the beginning. When a downturn in business requires layoffs, people are not left in the dark and law suits will be minimized. Employees need to be informed how risky startups can be when they hire in. Keep them informed about order backlogs, or times when there are gaps in orders to inform and motivate them. Make sure your employee documentation is up to date with policies and procedures, not to disclose IP clauses, non compete clauses, salary schedules, etc.
Best overall tips: Find something unique about your company or yourself that attracts talented people. Be innovative in places where you hire hire, like organizations and even use grant monies where possible. Be passionate, candid and keep the big picture in mind. Find builders and give them a place to build.