Great staff are crucial for the success of any business, especially in the early stages. Of course there’s one major problem: how to get the right people on board when you can’t swing the big salaries.
But is money really everything, or are there other benefits that might sweeten the deal?
“A lot of people are not as turned on by money as they make out. They want to feel that they’re worthwhile,” says Dave Roper, the co-founder of wildly successful bag company Crumpler.
“Money is important, but as long as you are in the right range it becomes more about all the other stuff.”
Roper says the startup phase is usually the time when businesses can least afford big salaries – but also the most exciting time to be involved.
He says at this stage it’s wise to harness your networks to find good people.
“In those early days it’s a lot about the plans for the future and being clear about the vision of the company,” says Roper.
He says many people understand that startups don’t have big budgets, but there’s also an expectation that staff who are instrumental in a business’ early success will be looked after later.
“As the business grows make sure that those staff are in fact rewarded accordingly, that their salary is increased as profit allows,” says Roper.
…many people understand that startups don’t have big budgets, but there’s also an expectation that staff who are instrumental in a business’ early success will be looked after later.
At Crumpler, which Roper describes as an exciting and creative workplace, interviews are often held in the studio amid the whir of sewing machines, to give potential staff a taste of the place and see how they respond.
Roper says providing flexible working options, a clear career progression path and clear company goals help the business to woo good staff.
There’s also bike parking in reception, regular social get-togethers, movie nights, good coffee, table tennis and “many boozy lunches”.
If a staff member has a burning passion to do something – for instance a designer wanted to take part in a basket-weaving course in the Northern Territory – Roper says they provide support.
Roper says that small business owners should show their passion, without having to control every little thing.
“Let them do their job as that’s what you hired them for – don’t try to micromanage – trust them,” he says.
“Provide comfortable and professional surroundings and take pride in your workplace. Work is often an extension of your personality so it’s very important staff are proud of it.”
Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!