Starting a business is no easy feat – it takes time, effort, and money. You need to wear a lot of hats and be good at a lot of things. One thing you can’t do everything, though, is build a successful business by yourself. You need a team of people to help you.
This is why hiring the right people from the start is important. The right founding team will be able to support you and your business, help it grow, and make it successful.
But with a limited budget and resources, it would be hard to determine who you should hire first. Especially because of the high average cost per hire of over $4,000.
But before we get into who you should hire first, let’s look at some general principles when building your team.
- Only Hire When You Need To: The first rule of thumb is only to hire when you absolutely need to. Don’t bring on people just because you can or because it’ll make you feel better. This will only drain your resources and won’t necessarily lead to more productivity.
- Hire for Cultural Fit: The second rule is always hiring for cultural fit. This means that you should only bring people onto your team who share the same values, vision, and mission as you do. This doesn’t mean they have to be just like you, but they should at least be aligned with your company’s core values.
- Start hiring from the top: Your first hires should be your executive team. These are the people who will help you build and grow your business.
- See what you can outsource: There are some things that you just don’t need to do in-house. For example, you can outsource your accounting, marketing, and even your IT needs. This will save you money and allow you to focus on what’s important – running your business.
- Focus on the long-term: When you’re hiring your first employees, you need to think about the long-term. You want to find people who will be with you for the long haul, not just people who are looking for a quick paycheque.
So, who should you hire first? Here’s a look at the eight people you need to hire for your business:
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Chief Operating Officer (COO)
- Product Manager
- Sales Manager
- Customer Service Manager
Chief Executive Officer
The CEO is the face of the company and is responsible for its overall vision and strategy. The CEO sets the tone for the entire organisation, so it’s crucial to hire someone who you can trust to lead your company in the right direction.
Expect your CEO to perform the following duties:
- Setting and executing the company’s overall vision and strategy
- Developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, including investors, partners, customers, and the media
- Creating and driving initiatives to achieve desired results
- Hiring, developing, and managing executive team members
Usually, one of the founders takes on the CEO role, but you can also hire an experienced executive from outside the company.
When hiring a CEO, look for someone with significant experience in growing and scaling businesses, especially in your niche. They should also have a track record of successful product launches and be able to raise capital effectively. Besides this, look for the following characteristics:
- Strategic thinker: A good CEO can think long-term and develop a vision for the company. They should also be able to create and execute a strategy to achieve these goals.
- Leadership skills: A CEO needs to be a strong leader who can inspire and motivate employees. They should also be able to build relationships with key stakeholders, such as customers, partners, and investors.
- Decision-maker: Find someone who is able to make tough decisions quickly. They should also be able to delegate responsibility and hold people accountable for their actions.
- Communicator: A CEO needs to be able to communicate effectively, both internally and externally. This includes speaking in public, writing clearly, and listening carefully.
Know that the CEO will be the public face of your company, so it’s important to hire someone who is media-savvy and can articulate the company’s vision clearly.
Chief Technology Officer
The CTO is responsible for all the company’s technology aspects, from product development to information systems. They are usually a founding member of the company and are often the head of engineering.
Your CTO will be responsible for:
- Developing technical aspects of the company’s strategy to ensure that it is aligned with its business goals
- Overseeing the technology team and ensuring that they have the resources they need to be effective
- Working with other departments to ensure that technology is integrated into all aspects of the business
- Providing leadership and mentorship for the engineering team
- Being the face of the company’s technology to the outside world
You need to hire a CTO who can not only develop innovative products but also build and manage a team of engineers in future. So look for the following qualities:
- Technical expertise: The CTO should have a deep understanding of the latest technology trends and be able to apply them to your company’s products and services. Moreover, you should ensure that the CTO has technical experience in your company’s niche.
- Leadership: The CTO will be responsible for leading a team of engineers, so it’s important that they have good people skills and can motivate and inspire others.
- Strategic thinking: The CTO needs to work in synergy with other C-level executives to develop long-term plans and strategies for the company. They should also be able to see the big picture and make decisions that are in line with the company’s overall goals.
- Communication skills: The CTO will be the face of the company’s technology to the outside world. As such, communication skills are critical for this role.
Just like the CEO, the CTO should be a good communicator and be able to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical people.
Chief Marketing Officer
Marketing is critical for your business, especially in the early stages. You need to hire a CMO who can create and execute a marketing strategy that will not only help you acquire new customers but also retain existing ones. Besides this, your CMO will be responsible for
- Managing your brand image and reputation
- Strategising and executing marketing campaigns
- Developing and managing your marketing budget
- Working in synergy with other departments such as Sales, R&D, and Customer Support to ensure a holistic marketing strategy
- Developing a feasible marketing roadmap
That’s not all, your CMO would be your key driver in terms of achieving your business goals and taking it to the next level.
Hence, you must take your time to find the right person for the job. Look for:
- Strategic thinking: The CMO needs to be able to develop marketing strategies that align with the company’s overall goals.
- Creativity: Marketing is all about creativity. The CMO should be able to think out of the box and come up with creative solutions to problems.
- Leadership: Handling the entire marketing team requires good leadership skills. The CMO should be able to motivate and lead the team to success.
- Analytical skills: The CMO needs to be able to analyse data and make decisions based on that data. Hence, just creativity is not enough. Analytical skills are also required.
Look for a CMO with experience in both online and offline marketing, as well as a track record of successful campaigns.
It’ll be best if you can find someone who also has a background in the industry you’re in. This helps them understand your target market better and come up with more effective marketing strategies.
Chief Financial Officer
If you’re not a numbers person, you’re going to need someone who is to keep track of your finances. This is especially important if you’re looking to raise money from investors.
The CFO will be responsible for:
- Managing the company’s financials
- Overseeing investments
- Preparing financial reports
- Ensuring that the company is compliant with all financial regulations.
- Managing the entire accounting team in the long run
This is a big role, so you’ll want to make sure you hire someone with years of experience in finance. If not, you may end up with more problems than you started with.
You should look for someone with a solid understanding of accounting and finance and experience in the startup world. Besides this, look for the following qualities:
- Long-term vision: A good CFO will be able to see the bigger picture and make decisions that will benefit the company in the long run, not just the short term.
- The ability to manage risk: Startups are full of risks that are not just financial. A good CFO will work together with other C-level executives to identify and manage these risks.
- Flexibility: A CFO must be able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of a startup. They need to be able to change their strategies quickly when necessary.
- The ability to work with investors: Investors are vital to a startup’s success, and a good CFO will know how to work with them. They’ll speak in the language investors understand and be able to explain the company’s financial situation clearly.
- The ability to handle pressure: Startups are high-pressure environments, and a CFO needs to be able to handle that pressure. They need to be able to make quick decisions and remain calm under pressure.
- Leadership skills: A CFO needs to be a leader within the company. They need to communicate effectively with other members of the executive team and be able to provide guidance and direction.
CFO is a key position in your startup. You need to find someone with the experience, skills, and personality to succeed in this role.
Chief Operating Officer
While the CEO is responsible for the company’s overall direction, the COO is responsible for ensuring that day-to-day operations run smoothly. They need to be able to manage people and resources effectively. Besides this, your COO will also be responsible for:
- Developing and implementing strategies to improve operational efficiency.
- Working with the CEO to develop and implement marketing and business development strategies.
- Overseeing the operations of the company and the work of the staff.
- Ensuring that all company policies and procedures are followed.
- Ensuring that all legal and compliance requirements relating to business operations are met.
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with key partners and suppliers.
- Establish policies to ensure company employees’ safety, facilities, and information security.
One of the most important qualities you should look for in a COO is experience running a business. They should also have a proven track record of success in achieving objectives. Besides this, they should also be able to work well with other executive team members.
It’s important to find a COO who is a good fit for your company culture and who you can trust to manage the day-to-day operations of your business.
A product manager is someone you entrust with the responsibility of planning, developing, and launching a new product or service. They are also responsible for managing the product throughout its entire life cycle.
The roles and responsibilities of a product manager include but are not limited to:
- Develop a product strategy
- Create product roadmaps
- Manage the product development process
- Monitor product performance
- Oversee the product life cycle
- Manage the team of engineers, designers, and others who work on the product.
The ideal candidate for this role should have experience in product management and a deep understanding of your target market. They should also be able to effectively communicate with all members of your team, from the engineers to the salespeople.
Find someone who is a:
- Strategist: A product manager needs to be able to see the big picture and develop long-term plans for a product.
- Driver: They need to be able to push for their ideas and get team members on board.
- Troubleshooter: A smart product manager is always prepared for problems and knows how to quickly solve them.
- Creator: Finding new ways to improve a product and develop innovative features.
- Communicator: A product manager must be able to effectively communicate with all team members.
The ideal candidate for this role should have experience in product management, be a great communicator, and have a solid technical background.
Your product is of no use if no one knows about it or is using it. That’s where a sales manager comes in. They are responsible for promoting and selling your product to potential customers.
They handle everything related to:
- Overseeing entire sales operations
- Creating and executing sales strategies
- Hiring and training sales reps
- Analysing data to improve sales performance
Handling sales required someone with a lot of experience, so it’s important to find the right candidate. Look for someone with a proven track record in sales, good people skills, and great organisational ability.
Customer Service Representative
Customers are the lifeblood of any business, so it’s important to have someone dedicated to providing them with the best possible experience.
Know that customer service is an art and a science, so it’s important to find a customer service representative (CSR) with both the people skills and the analytical skills to troubleshoot any issues that come up.
Hire someone who:
- Has a proven track record in customer service
- Is a people person
- Is analytical and detail-oriented
- Can think on their feet
- Is patient
Interview the candidate well and give them a trial run before making them a full-time offer. It’s important to vet them carefully as customer retention highly depends on the quality of customer service.
The first hires for your business have to be individuals that are going to set the tone for the entire company culture. Make sure you find the right people, and don’t just hire someone because they’re available.
Ensure that your first hires are individuals who will help you lay a strong foundation for your business – ones that will be with you through the highs and lows, and help you turn your vision into reality.
When done right, you may just have the beginnings of an incredible team that will help you scale to new heights.
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A startup consultant, digital marketer, traveller, and philomath. Aashish has worked with over 20 startups and successfully helped them ideate, raise money, and succeed. When not working, he can be found hiking, camping, and stargazing.