11 Important Traits Early-Stage Startup Hires Should Have

What is the top characteristic you look for when hiring someone for a very early-stage company? Why is this aspect or trait so important?

Focused startup employee

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised 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. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Resourcefulness

A very early-stage company is in many ways still figuring out their business model and processes. In new business, the processes will not be as well-defined and established as they are for companies with years in business. You need employees who are resourceful and can do the job effectively without requiring such a strong infrastructure, as some of your long-standing competitors may have. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

2. Commitment to the Cause

When you’re running a startup, it’s highly likely that you’ll run into obstacles, from funding issues to management breakdowns. The issues you will face are unimaginable until they occur. Hire an initial team that is so committed to the cause that nothing will matter but winning. All the flakes will be jumping ship while your core team is helping to bucket out the water. – Ali Mahvan, Sharebert

3. Tenacity

For your startup, you want to hire people that will do what they say and complete projects, not just start them. This is where tenacity comes in. When hiring a new employee, take a look at their resume and see how many projects they finished and how long they were at previous jobs. Be wary of those who hop around from job to job every year, because they might do the same with you. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Go-Getters

You need people who are go-getters when hiring for an early stage company — folks who won’t wait to be told to do something and just do it because they know it needs to be done. People who are hungry are best suited for early-stage companies because you need employees who will take action and not wait around for direction. Being creative and resourceful plays into that trait as well. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

Learning businessman

5. A Passion for Learning

A top characteristic is the ability to learn. I keep an eye out for anyone who hasn’t lost their love of learning, even after decades of working. I pay attention to applicants who have taken the time to earn certifications, and I also make sure to ask them what keeps them motivated on the job. If they mention that learning fuels their passion, I know I have identified a real gem. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

6. Self-Starter

Look for an independent self-starter. This person does not wait to be told what to do. They reach out proactively asking for more ways to add value. They propose ways they have noticed they could add value based on observations, and then they go do it. They bring up gaps or assumptions that might be distracting, adding to the “stickiness” of the team. – Arry Yu, Yellow Umbrella Ventures

7. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a personality trait of diligent, careful people who do good work for its own sake. They’re independent, efficient and can be trusted to take the initiative. Conscientious employees are ideal for an early-stage startup: They don’t need babysitting by managers and will generate value for the company because doing a great job is important to them. – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

8. Adaptability

At startups, nothing is set in stone. Everyone is still figuring everything out, so the people that you hire should have the ability to “go with the flow.” They might be asked to do different tasks outside their wheelhouse, or their role in the company might change entirely. So it’s important to hire candidates who are willing to adapt and change as the company changes and grows. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

Leader in a meeting

9. Leadership Skills

Since you’re going to hire a new person early on, chances are that they will stay with you for a long time. This employee will learn your business from inside out. Therefore, you need to find someone who will be able to take on different responsibilities and have all the necessary skills to functions like a co-founder. In other words, you should look for a team player with leadership skills. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. Self-Awareness

Hiring people with self-awareness helps create a culture of authentic individuals that are also team players. Some signs of self-awareness include crediting others where credit is due instead of taking all the credit, being able to laugh at yourself and being humble. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

11. Personable and Likable

The hours you work in a startup can be long and often require everyone’s attention. You want someone you like being around; someone who gets along with everyone. Otherwise, in those late nights when stress is at its peak level, you risk unnecessary tension. Find people that bring your office joy. – Adrien Schmidt, Bouquet.ai