The success of your growth story will depend on your people power. 

It doesn’t matter how unique your product is, or how much money you’ve raised, or what your market potential is. To succeed, you’ll have to attract the right people and bring out the best in them. 

These three HR essentials will help you do just that.

1. Articulate your purpose

Taking the time to clearly define your company’s mission, not just what you do but why you do it, is crucial to attracting talent and getting them to sign on for the ride. 

Imagine you’re interviewing for two similar companies, who both create technology to enable easy remote working. One company’s mission is to “provide everyone with the freedom to work the way they want to,” while the other company’s mission is to “provide the best technology to power remote companies.” The two companies provide the same service, and the roles will likely be similar, but which job would you take? Which company’s vision would you subscribe to?

Highlighting your company’s impact on the customer and framing it in the context of a greater good gives people something to believe in. Facebook isn’t building the largest social platform in the world. Instead, the company is building “technologies that help people connect with friends and family.” Find your purpose, articulate it, and give candidates and employees something greater to buy into. 

2. Play to your strengths

When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, you might not be able to compete with the giant tech companies’ deep pockets and brand power, but you can capitalize on what you do have. Being a small startup means you can be human-centric and offer people visibility, growth, and the chance to make a real difference in the business. You can offer things like work from home, flexible hours, and superior benefits. 

Employer branding is a powerful tool for recruiting, and small companies that lack brand recognition will have a more challenging time. But there are ways around this. Advertise the benefits of growing together and look for people who have the can-do attitude to thrive in a small company with a flat org chart. 

3. Ask questions and listen

Good communication is an obvious HR essential, but keeping your finger on the pulse of a company in growth mode can be challenging. Make it a priority to ask employees how they’re feeling and listen to their concerns. Don’t assume that because the company is small that employees feel comfortable voicing concerns. 

According to research by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills, companies sized between 5 and 19 people see the most benefit from proper in-house leadership and management skills. Remember to value your great people. Never become complacent or assume they’ll stick with you just because they’ve been there since the early days. Other companies will try to headhunt your superstars, so be sure to check in regularly to make sure they’re feeling happy and challenged. When companies are in growth mode, things tend to happen fast. Keep everyone up to date with any changes or roadmaps. You don’t want employees to walk into the office, look around, and suddenly realize everything has changed. Part of growing together is involving employees in the journey. 

While every business starts somewhere, the final destination comes down to the people driving that business. It can be challenging for growing companies to compete for talent with big-name brands. But remember that you have something those other companies can’t offer—a chance to get in early and build something incredible. 


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From Annie Lubin

Annie grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find her curled up with her cats reading a magazine profile about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.