When should you hire for your Start-Up?

Many founders can be overwhelmed by the risk that recruitment can bring, the cost of hiring, investing in a team that doesn’t end up supporting the business, the HR fall out. Making a bad hire is one of the fundamental reasons for start-ups failing, so how do you know when to hire?

Any staff you hire as a start-up will need to possess some very essential key qualities, including flexibility, trust, dedication and resilience. Hiring a team that can take on a diverse set of responsibilities will cover many areas of your business, until you are at a point where you can afford to expand further and define roles with more clarity.

In Part 3 of a 4-Part Series on Start-Ups, King Recruit explores when is the right time to hire those key roles.

Click the link to view part 1 of the series: Building a Team for a Start-Up Business

Click the link to view part 2 of the series: Creating a Successful Team

Click the link to view part 4 of the series: Keys to Thrive in your Start-Up

Hear Helen in the video below explore the right time to hire for key roles

The Founder – A multi-faceted role

As the founder, you need to set the mission and vision of your business, but initially you will also be the leader, the CEO, the innovator, the marketer, the product manager. It makes more business sense to hire from the top, and then grow and develop your team as funds and resources permit. Whatever roles you are recruiting for, being mindful of the company culture that you want to create will be a positive step in nurturing a successful team.

Understanding which roles you need to recruit for may sound obvious, but performing the role yourself initially will give you a thorough consideration of all aspects of the job so you know not only what type of candidate you need to thrive in that position, but also when to hire an experienced team member who can be more effective in the role than you, thus allowing you to focus on running the business.

For some roles, hiring key staff can be a question of numbers.

A start up won’t need a dedicated HR specialist. Quite often in the early days a current member of staff can take on the HR responsibilities, being yourself or an office manager for example. HR does require a specific set of skills to carry out the tasks successfully though, so policies and processes need to be set and clear. Whilst at the start-up stage, most HR activities and challenges can be dealt with in-house, it could be advantageous to have the support of an outsourced HR company who are legally qualified in employment law, have the necessary insurance in place and you can use as a sounding board for any challenges you may encounter.

When to hire in HR

As a very general rule, hiring full time HR resource would be likely once you have about 50 employees, as the business has grown in numbers and the requirement for HR experience is more prevalent. Between the start-up and 50 employees stage, whilst it’s not necessary to have a full time dedicated HR resource, you could recruit for a part time HR specialist, or the original staff member picking up the HR responsibilities could perform the duties alongside their other role, but they would need to prioritise HR tasks and be the point of contact for any issues as and when they arise.

When to hire a Marketing Expert

Many founders in the start-up phase are the marketing expert, accessing any funding, setting up a website or project managing it, creating social media accounts, thinking about branding and dabbling in networking. But do you have the skill set and time to take your product or service to the next level? What does that next level look like? Are you thinking about a launch, do you need a marketing strategy or do you need an expert to run Facebook adverts to engage with your target audience?

Being clear about what needs doing and what skills are missing will be crucial in determining whether or not you need to hire a marketing specialist, and whether that person is at an assistant level picking up the day to day practical elements of promoting your start-up, or if you need someone in a more senior role of brand specialist or marketing manager. If you have particular marketing projects that you want support with such as designing a leaflet, creating an email marketing campaign, or managing your social media, it could make more sense to hire a freelancer.

Are freelancers worth it?

Apart from their fee, you don’t need to worry about creating employment contracts and employee handbooks; you won’t have to consider holiday and sickness payments or pension contributions. But, it’s worth reviewing how much time is spent on managing any freelancers and the cost. If your start-up is reaching 8-10 employees, now might be a good time to invest in an in-house marketing expert, with a varied set of skills so they can cover everything from copy writing, PR, website management, running ad campaigns and social media platforms.


It is worth considering what other areas of your business could be outsourced in the early days, without impacting on quality or customer experience. The most commonly outsourced services are IT support, finance and payroll. Unless you are an IT or accounting business, you could find it more economical to outsource these areas, whilst you are concentrating on growing your business.

When to hire

When you do decide that the time is right, the most cost effective and practical way of recruiting the best team to help your start-up succeed will be by hiring slowly and screening your candidates thoroughly.

There isn’t necessarily a set answer to when you should hire key roles into your business; after all, every business is different. But if your start-up is stagnant because hiring a member of staff is the only way to move forward, it’s time to perfect your recruitment skills.

About Us

If you have any questions about building a successful team, give us a call, we would love to hear from you. You can ring us on 01392 790725 or email enquiries@kingrecruit.com.

King Recruit helps businesses to expand by finding game-changing talent. With our partner-led approach and expertise in all aspects of talent strategy and hiring – across the South West.

King Recruit joined forces with James Caan CBE and award-winning investment firm Recruitment Entrepreneur in July 2021. Recruitment Entrepreneur is one of the most successful private equity investors in start-up to scale up recruitment businesses.

If you’d like to get in contact with our Founder and Managing Director, Helen Plumridge – you can contact Helen at helen@kingrecruit.com | 07808 537696

This is part 3 of a 4-part Series on Start-Ups, use the links below to navigate through the series.
Part 2: Creating a Successful Team
Part 4: Keys to Thrive in your Start-Up