Building your global startup team
Looking for talent beyond one’s shores has its benefits and risks. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in startups expanding their teams globally to access new talent. Developing a global team isn’t straightforward, riddled with logistical, legal, cultural, and regulatory challenges. Today, we get into the nitty-gritty of the process with our industry experts.
📝 Key Takeaways
- The world is your oyster when it comes to talent. There’s plenty out there. No harm in going remote!
- Study a country’s labor and tax laws. Learn from your potential employees and know what they’re seeking.
- Employees want to feel empowered and engaged. Always provide benefits and an equity option.
📣 About the Speakers
- Jason Atkins: Co-founder of Cake Equity, a company that helps businesses issue equity and manage capital tables, etc.
- Naomi Seddon: International lawyer and shareholder at Littler, the largest global employment and labor law practice.
- Sondre Rasch: Co-founder and CEO of SafetyWing, a global safety net for remote companies, remote workers, and nomads worldwide.
- Kyle Croyle: Partnerships at Deel, a global payroll solution that helps businesses hire anyone, anywhere using a tech-enabled self-serve process.
🍰 Slice of Cake #1: Sweet side of going global
The number one reason startups have been hiring internationally is the large talent pool and access to talent. Limitations such as a small work population in a location also open doors for you to look beyond and hire the best in the world. These are some of the reasons why companies are going and staying remote.
From a geographic perspective, hiring abroad also has its benefits.
“If you're at a relatively early stage…and then you're thinking about expansion, I think it makes sense to hire people either directly in a particular country or at least within the same time zone. Obviously, there are benefits from not just a sales standpoint, but from a support perspective as well with having people with boots on the ground… But I do think having an international workforce breeds higher productivity. We know that startups, in particular, are working seamlessly around the clock, but having an international workforce actually means that you could potentially work 24/7 or close to it.” - Kyle Croyle
Going international brings a wealth of knowledge and potential network to the table, which is something that Croyle can’t understate enough. Recently, global hiring has also been used as a brand awareness exercise to promote brands and potentially find customers and investors.
🍰 Slice of Cake #2: But what are the challenges?
Seddon notes that you also have to look into what your potential employee is looking for, “We're seeing a lot more companies that want to tap into new markets so that they can access talent. But I think there's another aspect to consider as well, and that is as a result of COVID, obviously, most people were working remotely. Things have changed a little, but what we've actually seen is that employees are demanding more… So what that means is that there's a real talent retention piece to this that needs to be considered as well.”
But finding talent outside your zone has its issues, such as whether the employee can work in that state or country, “Unfortunately, most countries will consider that if you're engaging in an immigration breach, that you are in breach of the law as well. So you've got to make sure that the person has the right to work in the country. That's the first thing. The second thing is, you know what employment laws are going to apply to them because if they're based in a different country or a different state, then that's something that needs to be worked through as.”
There’s also the potential risk of tax and corporate filing, depending on the person’s position. Understanding salary ranges for a particular role, seniority level, and country will vary significantly, so having intel on that is vital. Knowing your payroll strategy and the benefits an employee is entitled to are relevant information that needs to be factored in during cost-benefit analysis.
🍰 Slice of Cake #3: Attracting employees to your shop
Rasch mentions two ways to attract employees, “One is definitely hiring remotely international. There is no better way to start. Number two, if people who work remotely still want the same benefits and have a desire for that… That is something that people care about.”
Potential employees also care whether the mission of the project and purpose and values of the company are worth pursuing. “That becomes a hygiene factor more and more where if that is not appealing…the best in the world just aren't going to consider it,” says Rasch.
But perhaps one of the most enticing benefits of any startup is getting equity.
“Being part of an equity plan is becoming more and more common. It's still developing in a lot of countries, but I think it's a way to put yourself ahead of your competitors when you're hiring and you want every advantage you can get. I also highly advocate building that culture of ownership.” - Jason Atkins
Croyle further adds, “I do think providing opportunity for people to grow within their role is extremely important and a way to attract high-quality candidates, especially ones that may be a little bit younger, but are really yearning for that management or leadership role… I think that a huge benefit of an earlier stage startup is the ability to take on a ton of responsibility, grow with the company… And so I think the narrative around that during the recruiting process is important.”
And there’s no better way to let an employee know they’re being cared for than a benefits package. Seddon quips, “[Employees] want benefits that would traditionally be seen as outside the box. But also within the companies that I'm on the board of, one of the things that I was really passionate about was making sure that we have consistency across the organization globally.”
At the end of the day, you want a team that feels they’re respected and well compensated. Atkins says, “The more you can show that you're ethical and you're providing good leadership, you've got transparency, you've thought through the complexities, or making sure that your global team will feel empowered, engaged, and fairly treated…it's really going to set you apart and help you hire and retain a great team.”