Who to hire in your company? Who to hire in your startup?

One of the biggest problems for entrepreneurs who run a business, especially a small business, startup. At last you have some money and you want to hire your first employees.

One of the biggest problems for entrepreneurs who run a business, especially a small business, startup. At last you have some money and you want to hire your first employees.

Who should you hire?

In fact, in such a question there are two questions included:

  • Who should you hire? Where ‘who’ means a position, e.g. developer, designer, account manager, marketing specialist, assistant etc
  • Who should you hire? Where ‘who’ means type of a person, their experience, skills etc.

Both of these questions are equally tough.

First, let me answer the first question. Then the second one.

Who should you hire in your company? Position.

Every company is different; every company needs different sets of skills. But every company has to fill the need of having every skill it needs.

So the very first question you should ask yourself is: what kind of skills do I (and my co-founders) have? What kind of skills do I need?

Let’s say you build a SaaS business. What kind of skills do you need? For sure that would be skills related to programming (both, frontend and backend programming skills), designing, product management, customer support, sales, marketing. What kind of skills do you have in place? Let’s say you can take care of building the product (frontend and backend, design, product management) and your co-founder can take care of customer support and sales. Who do you need? A marketing specialist. Someone who can take care of marketing.

Let’s say you build some e-commerce business. What kind of skills do you need? Programming, designing, customer support, marketing, logistics. You might be good in marketing. You can also take care of customer support. Your co-founder might be responsible for logistics. Who do you need? A programmer.

Treat hiring as completing skills in your organization. If you and your co-founders are not good at X, you need to hire someone who may take care of it.

What about outsourcing?

I’m a huge fan of outsourcing. So yes, you should outsource everything what could and should be outsourced.

By could, I mean that you should not outsource anything that should be done inside the organization. Everything what’s the core for your business, everything what’s secret – all of that should be done inside your company and you shouldn’t outsource it.

By should, I mean that:

  • it has economic reasons to outsource
  • it could be done better by someone else

For instance, in almost every business I build or ever built, I always tried to outsource designing. I’m not as good in design and as long as it’s economically viable – I always look for designers outside the company (here’s how to find a good graphic designer). Now, I do it at Squidility, I do it in my foundation or in any other projects I’m involved in.

I did it at PayLane, too. As long as I didn’t have so much work to do for a full-time designer, I outsourced it. Then at some point I realized that I had work for at least 8 hours a day, so I hired a full-time designer. Because it became economically viable to have a designer in place.

Who should you hire in your company? Type of a person.

Let’s be honest: experienced A-players are the ones we all want to have in our companies.

But… yeah, there is always some ‘but’.

Experienced A-players are expensive.

A-players vs B-players

A-players is a term used to describe people which are great in what they do. They are specialists in the area of their interests. They are experienced already. They have immense knowledge. They can work in standalone mode, as they don’t need the help of any other people.

B-players are the ones that are not A-players yet (because they don’t have such a huge amount of experience or knowledge) or have some experience, but they are not as good as A-players in what they do. They are good in what they do, but you (or someone else) need to control their work.

I don’t think that a company has to has A-players and only A-players. None of the companies is able to have only A-players. Especially startups.

But the fact is that every company has to have A-players. At least one in each core department.

So the question you should ask yourself is: do you have any A-player in department X?

If not, then you should hire one. There is no place for B-player here if there is no one else who can help him. Don’t have money for hiring A-player? Look for a cheaper A-player or wait until you have money to hire the one you got.

If yes, you may also hire B-player. If already employed A-player is able to cooperate with him, teach him, coordinate everything what B-player is doing. If A-player is not able to do it – then do not hire B-player. Hire another A-player.

In my opinion the very first hires in every department should be A-players. You may think that you are the A-player in specialization X. And in fact, you may be the A-player in this specialization. But what’s extremely important… you are not X specialist now. You are the entrepreneur. You may be good in X, but your main responsibility now is building a business.

You need to focus on building your startup, not on teaching and controlling work of B-players on a daily basis.

Experienced employee vs non-experienced one

For me there’s no such a thing as experienced and non-experienced employees. There’s always A-players and B-players. I know experienced people who are not good at what they do (experienced B-players) and people who are not very experienced, but have perspective and potential to be insanely good in a near future (B-players for now, which will be A-players soon).

Don’t look at the experience. Look at the skills. Look at the personality. Find out if the person you’re talking to is the A-player or the B-player.

And focus on what I wrote above: there has to be at least one A-player in every core department of your company.

Student vs non-student

I didn’t have any problems with hiring students in any of my businesses. I hired students at Justbemore, I hire students at PayLane.

However, with students there are two problems (for me, as the employer):

  • they need to have someone who can take care of them (just like with B-players)
  • they are not looking for any kind of stability; they are not looking for full-time jobs; more likely they are looking for some part-job for some short period of time

Also, there are two pros of hiring students:

  • salaries they expect are smaller, as they don’t have any experience yet and often don’t want to work in full-time
  • they are eager to learn and take on challenges

So in my opinion – you may hire students. But only if it’s not a problem for you that they will leave you in the next couple of months (e.g. you only need some help to finish some project) and you have someone who can teach and take care of them.

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One Comment

  1. How To Find A Co-Founder For Your Startup? 3 sierpnia, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    […] You should also read: Who to hire in your company? […]

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