September 17, 2015

Who Should You Hire First at Your Startup? 6 Entrepreneurs Weigh In


Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: When your startup is just getting off the ground, you need to make some careful hiring decisions. You probably don’t have the resources you need to hire all the employees you’d like to hire. Instead, you have to prioritize. So, where do you start? Who do you hire first?

The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.

zac1. Someone With Past Success

It’s often thought that, if you hire college students or interns to grow your business, you will end up saving money. However, one of the best investments you can make is to hire someone who actually knows what they are doing — someone who has had great success of their own and who excels in many different areas outside of what you are currently great at.

Zac Johnson,

Malachi2. Someone Who Can Balance Your Visionary Thinking

Many founders think visionarily and thrive in ideation. They’re great at coming up with strategy and forecasting what everything will look like in 20 years. But the grind and hustle required to run a business can be so time-consuming that the founder is left feeling depleted and disconnected from their vision. My first hire was an operations person who managed day-to-day logistics. This freed me up to focus on ideation, strategy, and sales.

Malachi Leopold, Media Lark, Inc.

Jules3. Someone to Handle the Non-Money-Making Tasks

‘No one does it as well as I do.’ If that’s a phrase you hear yourself saying often, it’s worth considering how many of those tasks you do are generating revenue. You can be the best at scheduling email campaigns or negotiating contracts, but if your real expertise is in another area, outsource those tasks to someone else so you can focus on the revenue-generating work that only you can do.

Jules Taggart, Jules Taggart Marketing Strategy

Julian4. Someone Talented With Technology

If your product relies on technology in any significant way, you should hire or partner with a technical cofounder. It’s possible to contract your technology build (or buy it off the shelf and customize it), but the best startups have strong technical talent from the beginning. Our first hire at GetOutfitted was a VP of engineering, and it was the best decision we’ve made.

Julian Flores, GetOutfitted, Inc.

Lisa5. Someone Who Is Good at Everything You’re Not

I’m a typical CEO, full of big visions and great at closing key sales, investors, and partnerships. At the same time, I dislike the minutiae involved in the day-to-day logistics of running a business. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses allowed me to find someone whose skill set complemented mine as my first hire.

Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

nailah6. Someone Who Can Run the Operations Side of Things

I hired an account manager whom I knew I could train and trust to take over daily operations and account management for my clients. It was important for me to be able to step away from the day-to-day operations so that I could truly step into the role of CEO and continue thinking of how to grow and scale the business. Without making that hire, I would have continued to get bogged down and burnt out.

Nailah Blades-Wylie, Wylie & Co.

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