Do you need HR, PR, or ER? Solving headaches for startups

When a startup has a headache, it is far more critical to the business than if it was a corporate. Why? There are quite a few reasons...

But three of the most obvious ones are:

  1. Startups have fewer people. That means less people-resource to solve the headaches that come up for startups.
  2. Less cash in the bank. That means they cannot just throw money at the problem until it goes away.
  3. More need to prove themselves. As challengers into their industries, startups are still building up their reputation and one major headache could cause them to lose it.

Add to this that startups don’t usually have as much business resilience because they are, by definition, younger and less secure, and that can mean that one small problem today could be the end of the business tomorrow.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can treat all headaches in the same way. In our experience here at OggaDoon HQ, working with startups from around the world in a number of tech industries - medtech, edtech, proptech, fintech, and cybersecurity - those headaches usually come in one of three categories:

HR headaches

These are the ones about people. It could be that someone isn’t happy, or that someone isn’t performing as they should, or even that someone just needs a little additional support than what they are receiving now.

For a CEO or founder of a startup, this is a major headache and one that you are literally faced with every day.

If your headache is person related and you do not have an HR team, then you have two options. You either need to get one, or contract out those services.

That may seem extreme, but your people are the most important resource in a company and if you do not protect them, then you won’t have a company much longer.

PR headaches

These are the headaches about your brand. This could be a sale gone wrong, an unhappy customer, or a legal issue that is threatening to break into the press. if your brand reputation needs help - either because you want it to be positive or want to stop it being negative - that’s not something that the founder or CEO alone can magically fix. You definitely need an expert.

You have two options. Hire a marketing person or team, hopefully with crisis comms experience, or contract out those services (you’re seeing a pattern here, right?).

PR is a highly specialised skill and you cannot just ask someone to jump in and deliver strong PR communications in the middle of a crisis. Make sure you pick someone or an agency that knows your company and industry, as they will have specific knowledge that can help you through.

ER headaches

These are about you, the founder. These are the problems that are often ignored or pushed aside, because you decide instead to prioritise the business and the other kinds of headaches.

But your physical and mental health is critical for the health of the business. Don’t allow that to be an excuse to pile the pressure on: if you are not taking care of yourself, then the whole business is going to suffer, and you could generate a health crisis yourself.

Take a holiday. Switch off your emails over the weekend. Trust your team. By letting go in these areas, you are better able to protect yourself and prevent an ER headache.

Disagree with me? Email Claire now!