HR Basics for Start-ups

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Starting a business is hard work, with so many legalities and formalities to think about. From setting up a website to exploring product demand, there is a lot to get done in a short amount of time – which is why HR is often the first thing to be put off until later. Many entrepreneurs fail to realise that not having the fundamentals in place will stem your growth and is setting the company up for failure. Yes, HR grows with the enterprise, but every business needs the basics from the word go. Many start-ups enter rapid growth cycles and without the fundamentals of fast growth in place, it simply slows you down and prevents you from responding to your clients.

Engagement in the workplace is like engagement in a personal relationship – there needs to be strong communication, values and variety. By focusing purely on the business and not the staff your growth is limited. Your ability to hire will be based on your culture so this needs to be considered at the outset; if not your competitors down the street will happily do this for you.

Here at Hunter Adams, our HR consultancy team specialise in new start-ups and business growth in the UK and internationally having started up in over 20 locations. We can provide the strategy that will ensure you are prepared to deliver for your customers as the work comes through the door. Here are some of the basics, straight from the experts.

Staff structure

Before you even think about hiring employees, we need to write a plan – an organisational structure with clear roles. Predict how many staff members you need, and how many of these will be in management or leadership roles. You should then prioritise the management team so you can all start working together. If you’re starting a really small business, you might be the only acting manager for now – that’s fine, but there’s no harm in planning for the future. If you fail to get this ‘operating model’ right then you will end up tirelessly firefighting operational issues and you’ll never get to the strategic piece that will result in growth and profit.


Establish the key attributes and experience you are looking for in your new staff members. Place your company values in the job advertisement and see how applicants can relate to them. Don’t forget that the interview process is a two way consultation – you’re considering whether they are right for the role, but you also need to promote the benefits of working for your company.


A clear training period is vital, whether you’re training up one staff member or 100. It can be tricky in a start-up, as the owner is often taking on multiple job roles at once. Without a standalone HR department, you might be the only one available to train up the new hires. Don’t see this as a burden, get an expert in – take the time to invest in their future at the company, and make sure they are confident and comfortable to work independently by the end of the training.

Don’t abandon HR – by placing these fundamentals in place you may enter advanced growth otherwise you may plateau or decline.

If you’d like to talk to an expert about a customised HR strategy, email