Just starting out? Don’t forget about HR!

There’s no doubt that starting a business is hard work, and that’s in addition to the legalities and formalities you need to think about. From setting up a website to exploring product or service demand, there is a lot to get done in a short amount of time – which is why HR is often top of the ‘things to do later’ list.

Many entrepreneurs fail to realise that if they don’t have the fundamentals in place, growth may be restricted. Yes, HR grows with the enterprise – but every business needs to have the basics in place from the word go. Many start-ups enter rapid growth cycles, and if the fundamentals of fast growth aren’t in place this simply slows you down and prevents you from responding to your clients. It also means that you and your senior team spend time fire-fighting.

To keep people in your company they must be engaged. If you cannot answer their HR type queries or provide them visibility of the things that employees look for these days (like communication, a career path, etc.), they will disengage and in turn reduce their output.

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 people who are helping you make it all happen – your growth will be 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 are a few pointers to help make sure you start off on the right foot where HR is concerned.

Staff structure

Before you even think about hiring people, you need to write a plan – an organisational structure with clearly defined roles. Predict how many team members you need, and how many of these will be in management or leadership roles. You should then prioritise with 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 – and that’s fine, but there’s no harm in planning for the future. If you fail to get your ‘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 that golden growth and profit you’re striving towards.


Establish the key attributes and experience you are looking for in your new staff members. Define your company values and place these in the job advertisements so that applicants can see if they can relate to them. Don’t forget that the interview process is a two way consultation – you’re considering whether the person being interviewed is right for the role, but you also need to be clear on the benefits of working for your company – otherwise they might decide they don’t want to after all. So ultimately it is important to have your ‘employee value proposition’ i.e. why people should come and work for you, clear at the outset.


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 or cost-effective outsourced HR support, 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 your new hires are confident and comfortable to work independently by the end of the training.

Don’t abandon HR. By putting these fundamentals in place you stand a better chance of entering advanced growth. If not, you may plateau or even decline.

At Hunter Adams, our HR consultancy team specialises in new business start-ups and scale-ups across the UK. We also support clients who are starting up UK companies from an overseas entity and need a hand to understand how things work here. We can provide the strategy and plan that will ensure you are prepared to deliver for your customers as soon as the work starts coming through the door.

We also offer HR starter packs – ideal if you’re in the very early stages of starting out and just need a ready-to-go pack of standard policy documents and contract templates. Our starter packs help you ensure you are fully compliant from the get-go.

To speak to someone in the team about HR consultancy or an HR starter pack for your business, contact team.admin@hunteradams.co.uk and someone will be in touch.