MSS Posts: Guide to Startup First Employees 💁🏻‍♀️

Mentality 🧠 - Pros vs Cons (1/6)


Pros 👍🏽: Rubbing shoulders with inspirational and visionary founders. If there is one base requisite it is this - be inspired by the founding team!


Working around a group of people who genuinely enjoy their job makes needing to perform an easier task


Chances are you’ll be given more responsibility. Fewer employees mean more versatility. You’re growing with the company. This means you’ll be privy to more details and learning lessons. If you want to start a company of your own one day, this experience could be extremely helpful.


Usually, startups offer share options to make up for a lower salary.


Cons 👎🏽: 20% of new companies fail within a year. You need to accept the instability

At a startup, everyone is taking on a lot of work, which means there may not be a structure for training new employees. Some people thrive in that fast-paced learning environment, while others feel lost.

More challenges come with cultivating a successful company rather than maintaining a company. This means you could find yourself in the office long past 5 p.m.

Change is a constant, a project that was one minute a top priority is dropped for an urgent matter. Learn to not take things personally and read the signals.

Ultimately it comes down to “Do you believe in the company?”

Everyone wants to be passionate about their work, but with startups, belief is especially important. Long hours, a lack of guidance, and unstable working conditions are a lot easier to handle when you love what you do.


Why startups make sense? (2/6)

An asymmetric opportunity is simply one in which the upside is much greater than the downside.

We live in a world where ‘a job for life’ is a thing of the past. If you are a skilled worker, and you know your skills are valuable, you remain highly employable regardless of whether the startup you join is a success or otherwise


Look at a startup with a 5-8 year timeframe. Is the potential outcome 10x any other opportunity that is available to you? Are you rubbing shoulders with giants that will catapult your career forward, and teach you how to build a company in a market you love and are excited about? 🧐


As per my earlier post, startups are hard work, and the instability plays with your mind. If you are intrinsically excited about the mission and the journey, it is hard to imagine how your life will be if you don’t take the startup route


Do your due diligence, and ensure your partner and loved ones' are on board with your move to startup life.


A successful outcome with a startup can be career changing, both economically and in terms of opportunities 😃. A failed startup means you need to get a new job 🙃.


Hire slow, fire fast 😨 (3/6)


Culture is defined by people, not by messages on an office wall. The attitudes and habits you reward, tolerate and permit form the fabric of your startup's brand.

Hire for culture, train for role

I remember hiring a head of division who had a very credible CV and would likely fill the role with maturity and experience. As our startup grew, the role would become a leadership position.

The recruit worked with the right devotion and attitude,” 💟 was in the right place”

  • The quality of work was sub-optimal

  • Leadership had to constantly correct work done, and the recruit did not exhibit the confidence to be client facing

  • After many difficult conversations, no growth was observed over time

We let the person go. It took us more than 12 months to find the right replacement. Everyone in the team had to take on additional tasks to fill the gap.


Once the right person emerged, we put everything into bringing in this talent. 😍 They took to the role seamlessly, and transformed the position to their own that reflected their personality and was an asset to our company and our clients recognised it immediately.

It’s not the hiring or the firing. It’s the training, support, and understanding your culture and what a fit looks like.

Contract Types 📑 : Freelance, contract, indefinite (4/6)

The world has changed, “a job for life” is close to obsolete, & the age of “remote work” #digitalnomad is upon us

Gig economy: A startup founder can get a quick fix - e.g. logo designs, SEO work, etc… for relatively cheap

- gig economy workers see startups as just the next transaction


Creator economy 🧙🏽: Sector expertise needed: E.g. marketeers, PR, videographers, campaign managers, event coordinators, designers


The relationship is beyond merely transactional, a culture and personality fit should exist

A good hire is someone who brings their creative dimension to the startup . Fees could be success based.


Contract worker: reflects the ebbs and flow of startup life 🎢, Founders manage headcount as the market reacts.

- Niche experts can command exceedingly better contract values and earn equity


Personal Note: this is the position I accepted for my current work


Indefinite contract worker:

with reference to earlier posts on culture and mindset and future post on share incentives


Still today the default contract, at least for key hires 🔑. Initially below market conditions, if the startup performs, thanks to your input and value add, these will transform into above market conditions, with share incentives as bonus.


Share incentives (5/6)

Note: For a technical, legal and local perspective, I highly recommend reading the primer by Seed Consultancy: Employee Stock Options


The central arc of this series is about the acquisition and retention of talent . A fundamental perspective to keep in mind is that great talent will attract many opportunities 🎣. So thinking that your startup is the only possibility available to a talented hire is fundamentally the wrong approach


EVEN MORE SO if your startup is performing excellently well . Your top operators will get noticed, and offers will be thrown their way. I guarantee that!


Speaking from personal experience, I always did my best to be loyal to people that believed in me. But as the stakes grow, so should the terms of compensation and potential outcome .


Share incentives are a key tool 🛠 to keeping talent long term. They align incentives, and provide the stickiness when things may not be looking so great - especially when compared to offers being made


In the link is a brilliant little tool for employees to understand how share incentives play a role in understanding the value of a startup opportunity:

Share compensation tool: https://my.causal.app/models/14195


Reverse mentoring 👨‍👦 (6/6)

Your employees can be a source for competitive advantage.


I learned about this concept from a post on LinkedIn by Amanda Xuereb:

https://maltaceos.mt/times-change-amanda-xuereb.../...


Generational gaps can be a base for creative conflict between executive leaders and the younger generation (or otherwise diverse) workers in that company.


During a session of this practice, the younger (or diversely inclined) employee would be given the opportunity to educate their superior on topics of tech, strategic and cultural relevance.


When selecting a hire, or vice versa a founder to work for, our uniqueness can be a source of value. Let’s embrace diversity at the workplace! 🧕🏼🧔🏽🧓🏼


This series of posts appeared on Malta Startup Space a Facebook group I manage that inspires startup culture in my native country of Malta 🇲🇹


For more articles on similar topics: https://www.clutchplayadvisors.com/blog


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