In honor of Austin Startup Week, we wanted to acknowledge that most entrepreneurs know certain
common truths about startup life: They’ll have to work 40 hours a day, 12 days a week, for example. But when it comes to human resources, there’s A LOT startups don’t know. Here are five crucial HR tenets you can’t really live without:
- Laws are Laws are Laws: Compliance will bite you in the ass if you don’t do it right the first time. Don’t try to use the employee handbook from where you last worked. Don’t “borrow” your friend’s proprietary agreement and just change the words, even though neither of you are lawyers. If there’s something you don’t know to do, don’t wing it, hire a consultant. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to pay a lot of money. Thirty minutes of a consultant’s help can save you hours of time and money on the other end.
- Measure Twice, Cut Once: It’s a carpenter’s expression that means make sure before you act that you’re doing the right thing. Recruiting and hiring people slowly, carefully, not impulsively, is important. Make sure you know everything that should be on a job description. Make sure the person really has the skill set you need and make sure you need the number of hours you’re hiring for.
- Blood Is Thicker Than Water: As far as I’m concerned, what this means is you’re stuck with family and friends. So if you’re going to hire someone from those two groups, make sure you have all your documentation in place. It’s hard, I know, to bring a tight relationship down to the level of a contract but it’s a lot better than bringing it to a lawsuit. Ask any lawyer, accountant or judge. Get your buy/sell agreements in place, your NDAs and your employment contracts. It may not save your Thanksgiving dinner from discord but it will make your business life much better.
- Information Is Power: Do your research before you make a decision. Don’t hire the first payroll sales person who walks in your door. Don’t base your salary on what one candidate says she’d like to earn. Understand what your competitors are paying and doing for benefits. Know if there’s a terrible shortage of a particular skill…or a glut. These are the kinds of issues we deal with all day long. You can do the research on your own or you can hire somebody who already did it.
- A Polymath Is a Kind of Person, Not a Job Description: Have you ever known someone skilled enough to be the controller and the HR professional who is willing to serve part time as the receptionist? We had a client try that once. In your rush to hire people with multiple hats, be realistic about what skill sets you need. If you can’t find all of these in one person (and, you can’t) hire a part time person or outsource the task. And make your own coffee.
There you go, save this on your computer someplace for when you need it. And see you at the Crawl!
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.