HR Priorities for startups. Stage – 1.

We may normally think that HR comes in only when a business has employees and is somewhat mature. To ensure that a business has a good foundation, it helps startup founders to think HR, even at an inception stage.

Stage 1 – When it’s only the founders.

We may normally think that HR comes in only when a business has employees and is somewhat mature.  To ensure that a business has a good foundation, it helps  startup founders to think HR, even at an inception stage. Of course, you don’t need to hire an HR guy or engage a consultant. The idea, for now is to be aware – that’s it. Here are some HR priorities for startups founders, to be considered at an early stage.

Business

You need to know your business – your product, services, the market. You need to have a vision , and strategy for working towards the vision. These may not be formal documents, but it helps if you have them on paper. They are are going to be your guide map, and anchor in what ever you plan to do. It’s understandable that you may not have much clarity at the start – and what ever you write will be subject to change, but then at least start. If you are not sure of much, start with assumptions.

Structure

Assuming that you know what product or service you are going to work on, and assuming that you have an idea about your market, opportunities the next thing that should be discussed and placed on paper is the organisation structure. 

It could be a simple structure, with multiple interlinked boxes showing broad areas of work. These should be the work required to deliver on your business priorities ( these may translate into functions or specialised verticals later on, as the business matures).

If it’s one founder, the different areas would help you prioritise your time on the different needs of your business. If it’s multiple co-founders, the boxes will help you prioritise as well as ensure that you each work on identified areas, and avoid any unnecessary and unproductive overlaps. 

Roles

The structure, helps you plan the work, and assign work and deliverables to all involved. Once you have a perspective on the structure – put the roles & responsibilities on paper. Having things on paper allows you to discuss work and work related responsibilities in a focussed manner, thereby supporting productivity. It’s any day better than an ad-hoc approach. 

An start-up should be nimble and is expected to take every day as it comes, accepting change. However, that does not mean – being disorganised and unplanned. If it helps the business, you can make exceptions based on reason, and deviate from your plans.

Culture

Even though it’s only the beginning. This is the best time to start thinking culture. The conduct of founder, co-founders, will have a rub off on the new team members, new hires. Be it – fun at work culture, late nighters, a fun but performance oriented culture, a complacent workplace, or a do or die workplace.

You may not need to document these today, but it will help if you should have a vision of the kind of workplace you want to build, the behavioural expectations from future team members, and from the organisation.  And, the founder, co-founders need to start conducting themselves accordingly.

These will keep changing and evolving.

The way business priorities and needs keep changing, HR priorities for startups will keep changing and evolving depending on the stage of the business, however these pointers will always stay relevant. Their dimensions will change, depending on team size, business needs etc. 

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