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Whether you run a fast paced start up on the back of its first round of funding or an established small business looking to grow, hiring the right people is key to your success.

Unlike at larger companies, where due process, management and training ensure that the company is always singing off the same hymn sheet, small businesses rely on having great people that really make a difference.

Everyone knows that in this environment, hiring independent, creative self-starters is key to success. But what should you prioritise? Do you need a coder, or an analyst? Marketing, sales or a head of finance?

It starts with you

Whatever a long list of the best hires looks like, you always need to start by assessing your own needs, and this starts with the people you already have. You need to prioritise two things:

  • What are the skills that we’re missing?
  • What are the tasks that we already do that are taking up time needed for other things?
All too often in start-up environments, founder members become jack-of-all trades, and this is absolutely necessary at the beginning. As you grow, of course you want to bring new expertise on that you don’t already have, but you also need to ensure your founding members free up time to do what they are best at.

Next, look at what the primary next stage is for your business. Do you need to sell more of your product? Secure funding? Reach a new audience? Improve your offering?

The bulk of your new hires should focus on those most able to offer something to this primary aim. Remember though, that a new hire doesn’t necessarily have to come in over and above to offer this new aim. If they come in and take work of the hands of the person within the business most capable of hitting that goal, that’s just as valuable.

As for those 6 people? You might not need them all, but the chances are you’ll need at least some of the below to grow your business to the next level.

  • Business development/Sales
As with the whole list, every start-up will have different needs, but whatever those needs are, hiring a powerful and influential brand advocate is essential.

If you’re focusing on securing more funding or trying to attract big clients, then you may want to look at getting in a senior executive with connections and the ability to use their influence.

On the other end of the scale, if you’re looking at increasing your customer base through smaller B2B efforts, engaging with smaller suppliers and clients through direct selling, networking and building connections, the chances are you want to look at elsewhere. Perhaps even a plucky, young graduate looking to learn as they go, and passionately add genuine value to your business.

Either way, you want someone who is confident and approachable, and most importantly someone who passionately believes in what you’re doing. At this level, hiring someone to sell your product who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and doesn’t believe wholeheartedly in what they’re selling, is unnaceptable.

  • Analyst
We’re creating more data than ever before, and somewhere there are people collecting it. Whether it is data that others are collecting or internal data on your clients and customers, you want a versatile analyst who can pore through the figures and identify ways to improve what you’re doing.

You want someone who can crunch numbers with ease, who has a business brain and an understanding of why they’re looking at the numbers that they are. They need to be able to research effectively, and report to different teams on the results.

They may be looking at the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, competitor analysis or sales targeting. Perhaps they’re testing your core target market for what kind of things they engage with, or looking at the best way to engage with them. When the data is out there, this kind of analysis can be hugely influential in taking your business to the next stage.

  • Engineer/Product manager
There’s two routes to go down here, and it’s all about what you already have.

Do you have a leader or head engineer who is passionate about making and improving your products or leading your services? Then you need an engineer who will deal with maintenance and delivering great product, freeing up your head honcho to develop new ideas, improving your offering and solving problems.

If on the other hand you’ve got someone who is much more business minded, passionate about advocating your product and building your brand across all channels, you might want to look at hiring a head engineer or product manager. It can be difficult handing over your baby, but if you find the right person, they can not only vastly improve your offering but free your time up to do what you do best.

More importantly, bringing someone new in can invigorate your product and prevent it stagnating through certain biases. An objective viewpoint is often what is needed for many small businesses, as well as someone who is passionate about your vision.

  • Accountant/Financial controller
It’s probably time to stop your finances filling up your own inbox.

It’s another burden that can take attention away from your core aims, whether it’s pay roll, tax, benefits or a multitude of HR tasks. Of course this can be outsourced, but if you’re looking for someone to combine finance and HR, it can be hugely beneficial to get someone in house.

You avoid any chance of late payments and invoices and you’ll find the whole business will start operating much more smoothly.

  • Marketing
You’ve got something to sell, you need to make sure people can find it. The first step is identifying the best route for your business.

If you’re service or media led, consider search or content marketing. An innovative product? Social or influencer marketing might be the route. Old school print, television or even radio marketing of course still have their place, too.

Once you’ve worked out the right route, find someone who has specialist experience in that field, but who is a generalist who can work across everything. They’ll need to be able to contribute to all fields of digital and traditional marketing, including copy, design and strategy, as well as being reactive to new platforms and ideas.

The dream? A jack of all trades who is a master of one.

  • Someone to get stuff done
Anyone who has worked in a start-up environment knows how varied a day can be. One minute you’re writing code, then you’re selling, next your painting the walls of fixing a leak in the roof.

If not, you’re time is likely to be made up of plenty of admin. It’s really worth hiring an office manager, a super organised employee keeping on top of everything that’s diverting attention away from strategy, building your product and growing your business.

Whether you hire someone with experience or look to give someone a start in a small business environment, consider smaller gaps in your team and see if they have something extra-curricular they can offer too. Maybe you need some quality photography, help writing the blog or they can help take some HR tasks.

Essentially you need a doer. Someone who is focused and will take all those tasks that are taking you too long. Just count up one week how long you spend doing things that you shouldn’t have to. You’ll be surprised how many hours you’ll find yourself to fill with the important stuff.

By Matt Arnerich, graduate jobs content writer at Inspiring Interns