Those who launch a startup have a unique challenge. Not only do they have to get the business started, grow it, and make it flourish. They also have to hire the first, second, and maybe even third round of employees.

This is yet another task that can be difficult for a startup. Bigger businesses have layers upon layers of infrastructure to make the hiring process easy. Startup employees have to wear many different hats until the infrastructure is in place.

Startups look for particular types of people to hire; they do not want to hire someone to fill a chair. Who should startups hire? What characteristics should they look for in their first employees?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Attributes to Look For In a Startup Employee


Startups want employees who will persevere no matter what comes their way. Difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement may come, but the employee keeps going until reaching a solution.

Working for a startup is not for an employee who gives up quickly. Startups are not easy; their employees must be willing to work through obstacles. This may mean finding employees that are willing to stay with what looks like a sinking ship. Working through obstacles and discouragement may be what helps the startup flourish.


Startup employees wear different hats. The CEO is also the CFO, HR manager, Operations manager, and more. Startup employees need to make their own decisions. Of course, some things need to be decided as a team. However, employees need to make decisions on their own without hesitation.

If an employee cannot make decisions, the startup owner may end up micromanaging. This cuts into the productivity of two people, not just one. Employees should make decisions on minor things like what project to start next or how to address an issue, but big things that could affect the company's direction should be made as a team or by the owner alone.

Self Starter

Employees who show initiative also tend to be self-starters. They do not wait for the boss to tell them what to do. The employees also work until the job is done, even if that means going above and beyond what was initially asked for. The employee needs to be able to move from project to project without being told what to do. The employee also should be able and willing to do more than asked so that the project can be done right the first time around.


No person is faultless; mistakes will happen. Startups want employees who take accountability for missed deadlines or for doing something wrong. Owners do not want to play the blame game; they need employees who fess up and correct the issue.

Passion for Learning

Employees who are willing to learn, remain flexible, and adaptable are gold for startups. The company cannot afford to get bogged down in how things are always done. There is room for improvement, and it is employees who see where progress can be made because they tend to be on the frontline of the business.

If startups have employees who are passionate about learning, they can invest in that passion. The startup can create opportunities for employees to learn new processes, techniques, or programs. The startup then benefits from the knowledge gained.

Photo by Per L??v on Unsplash

Creative Leadership

First-time employees should work hard and smart. Time is money, and anything that can save a startup is amazing. An employee finding ways to lead and think creatively saves time and money. A creative leader will think about their department's needs and consider other departments when making decisions. It takes a lot of creativity and thinking outside the box to consider how everything fits together.

Dedicated to the Business Idea

A startup owner needs employees who are dedicated to the business idea. The dedication drives the employee to persevere, show initiative, be accountable, express their passion for learning, and be a creative leader. Dedication means the employees will be loyal. They will not try to rip off the startup idea and try to make it their own. They will give their all to make the startup flourish.


Dependability is something wanted in any employee, but especially in an employee for a startup. The last thing an owner needs is to play babysitter. The employee should show up for work on time, do what he or she is asked, and meet deadlines.

In the End

Finding the right employees for a startup can take time. However, it is essential to know what to look for. The above characteristics show the most important things to look for in a great startup employee.