How to make your first startup hire

Oli Hawkins is the co-founder of G2 Brewing, and one of our Virgin StartUp ambassadors. G2 brewing specialise in hand-crafted microbrews that are increasingly popular - but with great popularity comes great responsibility. G2 recently hired their first couple of employees, enabling the founders to concentrate on the things they do best and helping to build their business. Here's Oli's story of how they did it.

"So time just flies by here at G2, and the phrase “Not enough hours in the day” has never held more relevance. I get up at sunrise, and before I can say “G2 beers are the best!” that giant ball of fire is packing up for the day.

The reason for this warping of time is due to the fact that G2 has become more and more established, and so the tidal wave of work just gets bigger and bigger. The dam that Sam and I have been holding is now at breaking point. This actually started to happen a few months back, but -  stubborn as we both are - we refused to accept help. But realisation in the form of Nicholas Benzoni (AKA Benzo) came to our rescue.

He originally came on board to help us develop our systems - I briefly mentioned him in another of my blog posts here . He has not only improved our efficiency but made us both realise the importance of delegation and how a fresh pair of eyes can dramatically improve all facets of the business. Because of this we have now decided to take on further help in the form of a sales manager, although I prefer relationship manager as it is more appropriate to what is involved when trying to sell beer.

Yomi is our newest member of the G2 family - everybody say hi! Sam and I actually both knew him from a previous company that we worked for, and so have been extremely lucky to have convinced him to join our growing brand. Employing someone that you have worked with before means you already know what they are all about and what their track record is. This means certain elements of risk are removed.

Since coming on board he's started building up our database and getting more customers in, allowing Sam and I to sip cocktails in the Mediterranean. Okay, that is obviously a lie - but he has freed us up a little more to push other parts of the business forward and take the thinking away from just selling. Sam and I still get to go out and meet new people, give out samples, and make hundreds (if not thousands) of phone calls so that we are pulling in the customers. But with Yomi helping out, he can put a bigger focus on that, and Sam and I can spend more time doing what we love - which is creating beers.

We did speak about taking someone on when we first started G2. The benefits of waiting, however, have allowed us to fully understand each and every part of the business, and that is massively important when you are running your own company. Simply put, you should never ask anyone to do anything that you are not prepared to do yourself.

If we had taken on someone right from the beginning, Sam and I wouldn’t have fully appreciated what was involved in the sales journey and what we could reasonably ask of someone in that position. Furthermore we wouldn’t have been able to take on Yomi, as he would have been employed with another company. I am not one to believe in destiny, but sometimes things line up just right for you to take advantage of the situation. It is up to you as a business owner to first of all notice the opportunity, and then do what you can to take it with both hands. I am just glad that, in the case of Yomi and Benzo, they could see the potential in our little beer company.

So since my last blog, the family has grown, but there is still plenty to do. There were two of us and now there are four - sorry, five, can’t forget Joey the dog! It now really feels like we are creating something that is here to stay.

The best piece of advice I can offer to startups looking to hire their first employee is to make sure you, as the business owner, know exactly what is involved in position that you are employing for,.Then find someone who is going to be better at it than you can be. If you know what the role is, then you should be able to identify the qualities that would suit that role. It's definitely easier said than done! However if you do find the right person for the role and the company then it can be very rewarding for everyone."


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