When you’re the leader of a startup, deciding it’s time to hire brings on mixed emotions. On the one hand, hiring new employees means new talent and fresh ideas, and it’s perhaps the most visible sign of success, or at least traction, for your company. On the other, it means ceding a bit more control, which can be difficult, to say the least.

The hiring process is difficult. It takes some money and a whole lot of your most valuable resource — time. But it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do as CEO. The ability to bring good people on board is perhaps the single most important factor in determining whether your business will succeed or fail.

That said, here are three rules I try to keep in mind throughout the process:

1. Salaries Aren’t the Sole Driving Force

Hiring great tech talent is hard. Hiring great tech talent on a limited budget is harder. Several of our employees left comfortable jobs with big-name companies such as Boeing and Accenture to come on board. What you can’t match in salary you need to make up in other facets of the job.

Think about what you can offer in terms of a compensation package. One advantage you have as a startup is flexibility; you don’t have layers of corporate bureaucracy to work through. Maybe that means you decide to let your employees bring a pet to work or keep nontraditional hours.

In my experience, a fun work environment translates into happy, productive employees.

2. Be Specific in Your Job Description

Declare what you’re looking for in a candidate up front. It will save you bundles of time down the road and help attract the right person.

Be honest about what you expect from them. The boundaries surrounding job roles often blur when startups are growing, so make it clear that 40-hour weeks might not be the norm and that employees might be expected to wear many hats.

3. Weed Out Early

The startup life isn’t for most people, and that’s OK. If you find that an employee is struggling with the role or the lifestyle, have an open and honest conversation early on. It will pay dividends down the road and potentially save you from having to fill an empty spot without notice.

One tactic I employ from time to time is group interviewing. Some people might think it is too intense, and I used to be one of them. But when you get down to business, it’s an incredible way to see not just how people perform under pressure and in unfamiliar territory, but also how they interact with others.

In the end, you know your company better than anyone else – trust your instinct and hire away.

Cole Harper is cofounder and CEO of SceneTap, an app and website that provides real-time information on the nightlife scene. He has hired 17 amazing employees to date and hopes to add many more as the company continues to grow.

[Top image credit: Loskutnikov/Shutterstock]