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How SnapBill Supercharged Their Start-up By Hiring Right

A team that believes it can make a difference to the world creates a buzz that’s contagious, and an energy that’s essential to early stage success. Here’s how founders Jaco van Wyk and Josh Yudaken of SnapBill got it right.

Monique Verduyn

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SnapBill-on-hiring-staff_Hiring-staff_Staff

Vital Stats

  • Company: SnapBill
  • Players: Jaco van Wyk and Josh Yudaken
  • Est: 2010
  • CALL: 0860 777 000
  • VISIT: www.snapbill.com

Bad hiring decisions can result in lots of headaches and heartache for a start-up. All the passion and drive in the world will not make up for employing the wrong people.

This is one of the challenges that Jaco van Wyk and Josh Yudaken, founders of online invoicing and billing system SnapBill, had to confront when they launched the business in 2010.

“We had worked together on different projects for many years, starting in 2004 when we launched our first billing system,” says van Wyk.

“Looking at some of the factors for success when it comes to tech start-ups, one of the ones that really stands out is the benefit of having two founders. It’s almost become a determinant of future success. That’s why it made sense for us to partner. I am the sales guy and Josh is the technical whiz.”

Not an easy task

Given their relationship of collaboration and co-operation, van Wyk and Yudaken had a reality check when it came to hiring staff for SnapBill.

It’s a common start-up dilemma: If you have no experience in hiring and managing people, you may be forgiven for thinking that most of them have a bad attitude.

It’s not easy to gain the skills to hire the right people for the job, but for start-ups, there are a few guidelines.

The start-up mentality

“We had to find individuals with a start-up mentality. Most people are used to being employees in a formal organisation that has all the process and systems in place. In a start-up, that is not always the case. That’s because the business has to remain flexible, constantly changing and adapting its products with relative ease and little turnover time.

“A start-up mentality can allow more room for experimenting with new products. You can move quickly with your market and adapt your product based on customer trends.”

The risk factor

It’s important for new hires to share the founders’ appetite for risk.

“We had bootstrapped the business, so we knew all about risk. But we also believed there would be reward, so we offered equity in the business, rather than a market-related salary. Not everyone is keen to take up that offer, but when you find people who do, you can build an incredible team as you are all equally driven and motivated to succeed. Of course, they have to be in it for the long haul.”

Remember, start-ups come with a lot of stress. van Wyk says he found it critical to employ people who could remain calm under pressure and in situations of extreme duress.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Hiring Employees

Youth Employment An Opportunity

South Africa has a high youth unemployment rate – it is vital for business to consider alternatives for youth employment.

Henry Sebata

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A young female graduate with hands-on experience in setting up and running community projects, had resourcefully turned a hobby into an income-generating small business to support herself,  while seeking employment… a skilled person, wouldn’t you say?  It took her five long months to find employment – and in that time she received 50 rejections – 50 rejections with no useful feedback as to why she was being turned down.  We employed her – and within the first few days she’d surpassed our expectations, had added ‘value’, so much so, that two weeks later we assigned her to a project.

It’s this kind of potential that company recruitment approaches seem to overlook!

There are 6-million unemployed young people in South Africa – and the social and economic transformation economy that  is crucial for the country, is an economy that has been growing at less than the minimum 5-6 percent required to shrink unemployment, largely due to the under-performance of main institutions.

Related: Entrepreneurship – A Greener Pasture For Young People

Business accustomed to turning problems into opportunities of value-creation regards the South African Education and Training system as one that does not deliver in equipping young people with the requisite work and readiness skills.  There are government tax breaks and grants which provide opportunities for short term employment, but unfortunately these do not create value, nor are they sustainable as they are not used strategically.

Last year I had the good fortune to attend the Youth Employment Enterprise Skills Solutions (YEESS) summit in Nelson Mandela Metro – engaging with the young attendees I found that they were determined to change the view held by business that they are considered a risk, to one which recognises that they can, and do, add value and assist in realising opportunities, particularly because of their age -related attributes that give them the edge.

Young people

  • are a cost advantage – they cost less (South African staff is paid on the basis of the years of work rather than the value)
  • have a higher level of energy – they work faster and for longer hours
  • have flexibility – they learn new tasks /systems quickly, and are often more innovative
  • can increase revenue – they enjoy engaging with customers, and being ‘entrepreneurial’ (eager to promote products and services in the market)

Business should consider these opportunities – the model that many businesses currently use pays young people a stipend which usually just covers their living costs and employs them for a short period; and then the norm is to “find” something for them to do to keep them busy… a soul-destroying experience that in no way creates value and is certainly not one on which to build a career.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

Alternatives to the existing model are to:

  • clearly pinpoint the opportunities and define the value (that the potential employee is required to add)
  • provide training – measuring potential is a challenge – a short training programme for job-seekers can clearly identify the ones who benefit most, and are thus likely to be the most valuable – and there is the plus of 4 BBBEE Skills development points for the training of unemployed people
  • provide a ‘proving’ period (3 to 12 months) where goals, expectations and support are clearly laid out -this provides an important business foundation experience in a productive environment considerably improving the chances of the young person’s absorption into the business culture.

By changing the way one views youth unemployment – to see youth employment rather as an chance to reduce costs, increase revenue and contribute to the building of skills and training future entrepreneurs – presents the perfect opportunity for business to contribute to the country’s future stability and gain economic returns.

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Company Posts

Temporary Employment Providers — Friend or Foe?

Contrary to the fact that legislation states that temporary employees work under a dual relationship between a TES provider and their client, the relationship has been questioned, confusing the situation and muddying the waters.

Workforce Staffing

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Currently, under a dual employment relationship, employees are given the protection of employment benefits under the TES provider and, after a three-month employment period, attain extra protection by being considered under the employment of both the TES provider and their client.

Yet various unions have pushed back against TES providers, citing that ‘labour brokers’ don’t have the best interests of the workers at heart. So, are TES providers truly the enemy — or could they be the solution?

What is a TES provider?

The term ‘labour broker’ is being bandied about with startling regularity. Surprising, because ‘labour brokering’ is actually a concept that no longer exists in legal terms, according to Joanette Nagel, Labour Specialist at Hunts Attorneys.

Related: Does A Strike Hit The Heart Of Your Business?

“It’s a term associated with ‘bakkie brigades’, those once comfortable picking up ‘piece workers’ and exploiting them with little to no consideration for labour laws,” Joanette explains. “Today’s TES providers are reputable organisations that, with the backing of the law and strict policies, provide a valuable service while ensuring that the rights and wages of temporary employees are in line with permanently employed staff.”

Sean Momberg, MD at Workforce Staffing Solutions, agrees: “A dual relationship where the employee is employed by both the TES and the client after three months means that the employee is actually afforded more protection. If, for example, the client falls into circumstances in which they can no longer honour the contract, such as if they go insolvent or a project is cancelled, the TES provider is still bound by contract to the employee and their rights to compensation, among others, are protected.”

The role of a TES in business

According to the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017 study, conducted by the International Labour Organisation, the rapidly changing labour landscape has made the expectation of traditional or permanent employment less realistic than ever before.

“There is a global trend towards temporary employment that is supported by a new trend of flexibility in career choices as well as employment environments. The demand for TES providers to play a more active role in the labour market is higher than we have ever known,” affirms Sean.

Organisations will also benefit from this trend, especially as businesses can outsource all non-core related labour requirements, allowing them to focus on their core purpose and not concern themselves with the labour function, or the overheads associated with human resources. “A TES takes on the responsibility of employment, remuneration, legal disputes, strike mitigation, employee wellness, interactions with unions, and many other HR concerns that are extremely resource intensive,” says Sean.

A TES ensures economic continuation

“President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his recent YES initiative launch, that even those with further education often struggle to bridge the gap between learning and earning. TES providers help with bridging this gap, offering skills development that guarantees jobs,” notes Sean.

Related: Finding Success With Workforce Staffing In The Minimum Wage Reality

“TES providers are here to stay and offer the best of both worlds to organisations and employment seekers alike. Dual relationships continue to protect workers, underpinning and promoting their rights, while helping businesses to cover any skills and employment gaps within their organisations without having to invest in huge HR departments and legal representation to do so.”


Spotting a reputable TES provider

  1. Registered and compliant with the Labour Relations Act (LRA)
  2. Likewise with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and relevant bargaining councils
  3. Has the necessary insurance and off-balance sheet financial protection in place
  4. Able to provide proof of regular auditing
  5. Able to show full legal compliance and holds a letter of good standing.

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Hiring Employees

Million Rand Questions Answered By Founders Of Multi-Million Rand Businesses

Don’t waste your time asking job candidates to name their greatest weaknesses (yes, everyone will say they’re a perfectionist). Instead, try these four tips from seven entrepreneurs who offer up their best strategies.

Nadine Todd

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1. Interview for growth

Building and maintaining a sustainable business is having the right infrastructure to do so, and that takes people — great people. The problem is that while you’re on your growth path, you can’t necessarily afford the best and most experienced in the market, so the trick becomes hiring people who you can see will grow with the position — you’re not hiring for now, you’re hiring for where you want to be. When we interview, we look for hungry people.

We want to know where they see themselves five years from now. — Steven Kark, Paycorp 

Related: Why You Should (Seriously) Stop Hiring People

2. Look for accountability

One of our favourite interview questions is ‘Tell me about when you missed a deadline.’ It’s an immediate red flag if they say they never have; either they’re lying or they’re not accountable. We’re looking for an answer that says they had an issue, what that issue was, that they recognised it, and how they found a solution — solution and accountability are key. We also believe technology makes the whole process easier, particularly if you are stretched for time. Spend time designing questions and then get someone else to ask them. Video each interview, watch the interviews in your own time, and then select the top candidates for face-to-face interviews. — Elvira Riccardi and Donna Silver, Afrizan

3. Dig into their current environment

We can’t compete with corporates on benefits, so we offer something even more valuable: Time and flexibility. There is a caveat though: Don’t employ someone whose benefits were better than you can offer. We interviewed someone who was a perfect candidate, except she was coming from a large corporate that offered an on-site masseuse for free, amongst other things. As much as we loved her, we knew we wouldn’t hold on to her. She was used to an office environment that we could never offer.

You need to be hiring people who are stepping up; not the other way around. We always dig into what their current office environment is like. — Renay and Russell Tandy, Ngage

Related: Hiring The Right Person Is Critical When Growing A Business

4. Make them sweat

For years we had issues around high staff turnover. We realised that the problem started in the interview process. We were hiring the wrong people who didn’t suit our culture, and they would quickly burn out, or challenge our expectations. We realised that 80% of the success of a hire is culture. Natie Kirsh used to recommend going for a drive. He said that if you sit in the passenger seat and just chat, asking any questions that come to mind, the candidate will soon reveal themselves in the simplest ways. You’ll see the person, and you can make a judgement call on whether they suit the requirements of the position and the company.

We also love the questioning method of four-year olds. Whatever the answer to a specific question is, follow it with a ‘why’.

At the beginning it’s not even about the answer. Candidates will always arrive at an interview with certain rehearsed answers. If you keep asking why, eventually they have to start giving you completely unrehearsed, unplanned answers, and that’s when you’ll get a real sense of who they are. — Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved, The Creative Counsel

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