Recruiting a team takes time, and along with all the other challenges of developing a high-growth business through each evolution of scale, you need to be thinking about your talent needs six to twelve months ahead of time.
Don’t hire anyone until you have HR, payroll and employment law and compliance structures in place
Get help designing a workable benefits package
Develop a talent-facing PR campaign
Think 6-12 months ahead
Work out the structure of your US and European offices, and how
they will work together
Make sure the new office is seen as a proper business, not an outpost
Cassandra Anderson of HR specialists, TriNet is particularly vocal on benefits. In the US market, elements of a benefits package like healthcare are financially burdensome but crucial for attracting talent. Thus, the headline earnings potential of a salary is comparatively less important to US candidates than the cumulative package.
Even more challenging, the US system means that your benefits offer can be set in stone for 12 months at a time – again, this requires that you pre-empt the labour market. Similarly, Alistair Robinson of Harvey Nash recommends a six-month runway before recruiting in the US; not just to familiarise yourself with the market, but to engage in a talent-facing PR campaign.
In all the US tech hotspots, supply of talented product, engineering and sales professionals is vastly outstripped by demand. You won’t just be competing for talent with Google, you’ll be competing with the startups founded by people who have served their tech apprenticeships with Google and used the profits and their networks to create the next generation of home-grown high-growth SaaS businesses. As a foreigner and an outsider, recruiting in that market is a big ask, so you need to start building a reputation before you hit the ground.
You should also be thinking about what skills you will need in the US, what your leadership team in each office will look like, what skills you will seed with homegrown talent, and how the new office will work with your European office. Our founders have varying approaches here, but in general, matrices with duplicated roles is only a solution once the business has grown significantly. Instead, the most effective and efficient structure is to ensure each office focuses on a local specialism. For example, not just for reasons of cost, engineering may stay in Europe, while the US becomes the commercial and product lead. This ensures that both offices flourish and are forced to work collaboratively, rather than one becoming the unloved outpost.
To finish with, a few golden rules from Notion experts:
No matter how familiar you are with HR and all things people-related in your home market, the US is a very different beast. You should start thinking about HR, payroll, benefits and compliance at least six months before you plan to have your first employee on the ground in the US – whether that’s you or another employee. Cassandra Anderson, HR Consultant, TriNet
Nobody is going to join an organisation that doesn’t have basic benefits and infrastructure from an HR perspective in place. Then organise your messaging and the website. You need to market to candidates up front and then sell to them, as well as interviewing them to get them bought into the process. Alistair Robinson, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Executive Search
You can’t just have a sales outpost. You have to question what kind of salesperson joins a remote satellite of an unproven startup in a very competitive US market? The right approach is taking some homegrown talent over to the US market. You need people with a deep understanding of the product if nothing else, to give confidence to the sales team that they’re not talking bull. Ed Barrow, Chief Executive Officer, Idio
Crossing the Atlantic