Continuing to answer Quora questions to do my 200WaD while marketing Canny.
Here's my answer to: How does a bootstrapped startup hire the first employee?
If you're on Quora, your upvote would help my answers get seen. Thanks in advance!
Here's our experience hiring for Canny:
Step 1: Make enough money to afford someone. Being able to afford someone assures that your company is doing fairly well. I wouldn't recommend adding fuel to a weak fire.
Step 2: When you're ready to hire, try inbound (people apply directly to your company). We were a two-person, bootstrapped company with no recruiting experience and little time. We weren't in a rush to hire either so an inbound strategy worked for us.
From there, make sure people who visit your website/etc. are compelled to work with you.
We have a blog where we share behind the scenes stories. This is a great way to show people that we're going somewhere. Joining an early stage startup is quite risky. People want to know they're joining a winning team.
In general, all of this comes down to branding. Make sure your external communications make you a magnet for good talent.
Hope this helps! We've written more in depth about this in this blog post.