10 Characteristics You’ll Want to Look for in an Early-Stage Hire

When you’re just starting your business, who you surround yourself with is paramount to your success. What’s one characteristic you should be looking for when bringing on any new hire to your early stage business, and why?

Startup team members

These answers are provided by 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. Enthusiasm

I look for enthusiasm and a sheer zest for learning. I’m less concerned with a new hire’s level of experience than I am with their willingness to work and whether or not they bring a positive attitude to their life and workplace.

Lisa Song Sutton, Sin City Cupcakes

2. Honesty

Honesty is one of the most important characteristics of any new hire. Starting a new business is like charting unknown territory. You never know what you’re going to run into. That’s why you need someone you can trust and count on. Finding honest people in the beginning will help you build a solid team for years to come. Skills and knowledge can be learned over time, but honesty cannot.

Shaun Conrad, My Online Accounting Course

3. Flexibility

It’s important to hire people who show flexibility within their role and are not afraid to extend their skill set. People with flexibility are often better at other skills as well, such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Bringing those assets to your business will take it to the next level.  

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

Focused startup employee

4. Accountability

There isn’t a single characteristic that ensures a new hire will sink or swim, but any founder knows you won’t get far without accountability. In many ways, everyone in early-stage startups is a co-founder, so an entrepreneurial lens is paramount. This can mean many things — self-driven, strategic, etc. With a shared entrepreneurial mindset, you can search for candidates with complementary skills.

Rong Zhang, Hirect

5. Positivity

Look for candidates with a positive attitude. The work environment can be dramatically changed by the presence of someone with a positive attitude. Such people help create a healthy work environment and are generally a great addition to the team.

Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

6. Resilience

Look for a resilient person with big dreams — resilient, because the road of a startup can be rather bumpy with peaks and troughs, and big dreams, because only with big dreams and belief in an idea can a startup reach its full potential. Having someone at your side who is prepared for this and comes out even stronger and more determined will lead to success and growth now and in the future.

Brian Pallas, Opportunity Network

7. Commitment

Recruiting new people repeatedly can be an expensive affair, considering the time and resources you spend on finding and then training the right candidate. But you can save your resources by hiring candidates with traits of commitment and longevity. For example, a web designer with multiple certificates in related courses can show passion for growth and career opportunities.

Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

Hiring new employee

8. Experience

It is important to look for someone with experience either working at another early-stage company or having done some consulting work. At this stage of your business, most likely you’re in the process of learning the ropes. Therefore, it’s essential to tag along with someone who can learn and do the job efficiently, add value on a daily basis and be focused on their own growth.

Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

9. Wide-Ranging Knowledge

I would look for a polymath. When your business is in its early stages, it helps to have someone who can work on and even explore a wide range of tasks. But that’s not all there is. That person should not just be willing, but also visibly interested in helping you innovate the business. Polymaths are usually team players as well, so they’d be perfect for startups.   

Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

10. A ‘Go-Getter’ Attitude

When you start a new business, there’s uncertainty. Since you don’t know if you’ll get clients and whether they’ll love your work, I think it’s important to work with people who are excited and ready to meet new challenges. They need to have a “go-getting” attitude and the ability to learn. So, take attitude into consideration when hiring someone since their mindset can impact motivation at work.

Blair Williams, MemberPress