Starting a company is easy, building one is hard.
As a startup founder your job is to recruit a world-class team. The first step is to naturally surround yourself with a passionate founder team with complementary skill sets whom you trust and work well with. The next hires are smart individual contributors (often engineers or designers) who believe in your vision. After you’ve assembled a solid core team and found product-market fit, you are at the crucial stage at which you are ready to scale your business; one of the most important milestones is hiring your first executive.
Adding that veteran to your team can help accelerate your business by:
- Establishing structure, clear roles, and paths to scale the team
- Teaching best practices for new situations that come with scale
- Aiding with recruiting and sales via their network
- Creating a sense of legitimacy in the marketplace
With that said, it’s a complicated process that you want to take seriously and allocate sufficient time towards. Having recently gone through that process I wanted to share a few thoughts.
Don’t Hire Too Early
In Marc Andreesen’s essay on executive hiring, a startup should hire an executive ‘when it’s clear that it needs one’. For instance, when hiring needs to accelerate or when you need more process and structure and rigor to how you do things.
Simply put, if you haven’t found product-market fit, you’re better off keeping your burn rate low instead of hiring an expensive executive. While her experience and network can help accelerate your business, the business itself should be positioned in the right direction. After all, if you’re stepping on the gas while you’re stuck in the mud, you’re not going to go very far.