Tips for three of the most crucial things you’ll do as a startup founder: Negotiating your worth, networking and hiring

The ability to negotiate your own worth, build a great network around you and hire the best people will make or break you as a startup founder, Agency Iceberg founder Anna O’Dea says.

O’Dea left a career in recruit to launch her own startup two years ago, with her talent agency now nearing $1 million in annual turnover.

She says there are three core things to be considered before launching a startup.

  1. “Do you have a network you can reach out to from day one?
  2. Can you make tough decisions, and can you make them on your own?
  3. Will you take risks and are you willing to back yourself?”

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, there are three critical skills that founders need to develop while growing their early-stage ventures.

Building a network

“You can’t buy a network,” O’Dea says.

Building a network can help with another from bringing in early adopters or scoring external funding.

“How many clients do you have realistically that you can start talking to when you do start your startup,” she says.

“You’ve got to think revenue and relationships.”

Hiring the best people

The ability to hire the best people early-on and compensate for your own gap in knowledge or skills as a founder will make or break a startup.

Veronica Munro, the newly announced CEO of impact accelerator One10, prefers to meet potential new recruits over coffee and have a casual conversation rather than a more traditional interview in order to get an insight into their purpose.

“The biggest thing I look for in people is not their skills or their CV,” Munro tells StartupSmart.

“I look for what drives people – do they have initiative?”

Every person an early-stage company hires needs to have a high level of initiative and be able to manage their own projects and make decisions, Munro says.

“It’s about the people and not about the skills, because the skills can always be learned,” she says.

It’s also important for founders to be flexible and open to concepts like job sharing and part-time work,” she says.

“You get the best staff when you’re flexible,” Munro says.

Negotiating your own worth

It’s important for founders to be able to fairly value themselves in order to grow a business and not give away too much equity,” O’Dea says.

“When it comes to negotiation you have to back yourself and know what you’re talking,” she says.

“It comes down to being honest and being transparent.”

This can come down to how much you sell your product or service for, or how equity you’re willing to give up in your startup.

Whichever it is, it’s always best to be done in person, O’Dea says.

“Market-rate your worth and your staff’s value as well – what their time is worth,” she says.

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