I can already hear you groaning – “Working with relatives? I’d rather save the familial drama and handle everything by myself.” Unfortunately you may not be able to juggle all the responsibilities of a new business single-handedly. Launching a business, getting new customers, executing successful strategies and securing sales requires a savvy business team. Although right now you may not be able to afford to hire full-time employees you can still assemble a “crack” team of passionate friends, family members (minus the crazies!), outside contractors and interns who would be willing to accept equity or experience as compensation. Here’s a mini-guide on what to consider when hiring family, contractors and interns:
Working with family members is not an altogether impossible idea. Just be certain that you’re working with relatives who know how to separate business and family. With that said, you may not want to work on a business with a close relative like a sibling or parent; you want to avoid the situation where your sister interprets a veto to her marketing proposal as a personal slight. Choose to work with family members with whom you have relationships that are strong enough to stand the strain of professional disputes. The added advantage of working with relatives is that (ideally) you can trust them and also, they’re the people who you know the best. If you can save the family drama, focus on company goals instead of feuding with kin, you may be able to find the inexpensive help you need to start your business.
This is a great option for a young startup to hire talent and skill even if it doesn’t have the corporate resources to offer employee benefits, health insurance and compensation funds. Consult with your lawyer on how to hire temporary or project based contractors within your state employment guidelines. Most freelancers provide skills to more than one company at a time. If you enjoy working with a contractor who is devoted to your business idea you can even offer them equity. Contracting talent is also a good way to decide if you’d want to hire someone full time. An individual can work for you on a limited-time, “probational” period where you can assess her work and then decide whether or not you’d want to offer her a position. Or if you just need a one-time contractor to get a website up check out project-based, freelance sites like Odesk or Elance where contractors are paid by the hour.
Contact nearby high schools and universities to take part in their internship program. Unpaid interns can provide free assistance for your basic office needs such as data entry, light administrative tasks and errand running. Consider paying interns who are learning the major skills you’ll need for your business such as: coding programs, building websites, researching projects, creating presentations etc. An ideal internship implies a symbiotic relationship; take on students who are truly interested in learning your company’s field and make an effort to provide your intern with responsibilities she’ll desire to learn. That way, your intern will get something valuable from their work experience and you will earn an inexpensive yet passionate “team member.”