8 Ways You Can Hire Top Talent on a Small Budget

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Question: As a startup how can I hire top talent on a small budget?

Hire Stay-at-Home Parents

“There are many qualified and eager people looking for the balance of making money while still having time for their families. The convenience of being able to work from home may be appealing to those looking to spend less time commuting. For less than half the cost of full-time staff, it is absolutely possible to attract experienced employees perfect for your company.”

Sell the Company Vision

“Startups need to hire people who believe in the company vision. A startup can have a big upside compared to a typical established company. But that only matters to certain kinds of individuals. Find those willing to sacrifice short-term pay for the potential upside. Hires need to believe in the company vision to make the sacrifice.”

Live in a Cheap City

“If you can, avoid living in expensive cities like San Francisco. By living and working out of a more affordable city, you can recruit top talent at a more reasonable price. You should also look into programs like VFA (Venture for America) where you can get top talent that has been previously vetted and that has stated a strong desire to work in the startup world.”

Use Freelancing Websites

“Most of the startups in U.S. with small budgets use websites like Upwork to find top talent. You will find experienced talent with budgets ranging from $15-$50 per hour with design, programming, testing and accounting backgrounds. You can hire full-time dedicated talent or on a project-by-project basis. I have used it several times.”

Offer Varied Responsibilities

“Money isn’t everything, and talented candidates are more likely to go the startup route for less money if it will offer them the opportunity to work on more interesting projects and have more (or just varied) responsibilities compared to what they’d be doing at your average company. At startups, you can wear a lot of hats and learn exponentially faster, which is appealing to high performers.”

Find Undervalued Talent

“A small-budget startup is a lot like a small-market sports team. When you can’t afford the expensive free agents, you have to dig in and find undervalued talent. Be creative with your recruiting. Focus on potential, not experience. Optimize for candidates who can answer, “How would you solve this new problem?” versus people who can easily answer, “How have you done this in the past?””

Look for Passion When You Hire

“Top talent doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Look for individuals who have the potential to add value to your company and are passionate about your industry. Some of the best talent is looking to get involved with groundbreaking innovators to create something new and inspiring. So look for like-minded people who share your vision and are ready to grow with your company.”

Offer Equity

“Hiring top talent can often involve spending top dollar. Rather than emptying starting capital into a full staff of premium employees, offer critical team members economic interest in the company. If you’re worried about giving up too much of your business, keep in mind not everyone needs a significant slice of pie to be satisfied.”