Making the decision to start a company is a huge step – and it’s only the beginning. Once you’ve made the commitment, you need to start thinking about building your team. But who do you hire first? And which roles are key for early-stage success?
Finding the right people to join your startup is one of the most important – and difficult – tasks you’ll face as a founder. But it’s critical to get it right because your team will be key to driving success (or failure).
According to a recent study, the average cost per hire is around $4,425 so you want to make sure you’re filling the right roles with the right people.
It typically takes 36 to 43 days to fill a role in the United States, so you need to start thinking about this process well before you’re ready to hire.
If you want to be a successful CEO, you must first become a competent recruiter, which begins with the first five hires for your startup. The initial group will establish the tone for your company’s early years, therefore it is critical that you put together the greatest team possible.
First 6 People To Hire For Tech Startup
Regardless of the industry, your startup serves or the funding status, the first 5 employees you hire will play a pivotal role in your company’s success.
The most common roles that are filled in the early stages of a startup are: CEO, CTO/Engineer, Salesperson, and Marketer/Content Creator. Take a look at each of these key positions and what skills and qualities you should be looking for when hiring someone into them.
1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
You are, in a sense, the key component in the staffing formula. It’s your duty to be constantly selling. You should talk about your company at every opportunity, as well as use breakfast, lunch, and dinner for meetings and networking.
The CEO is the driving force behind any company and is responsible for setting the vision, strategy, and overall direction of the business.
What makes a good Chief Executive Officer?
- Inspire and Motivate Employees: CEOs often need to motivate employees who may be feeling down or discouraged. It’s important for the CEO to set the tone for the company and show employees that they are valued and their work is important.
- Strategic Thinking: CEOs need to be able to see the big picture and develop long-term strategies for their company. This includes setting goals, making plans to achieve those goals, and executing those plans.
- Great Communicator: CEOs are often the face of their company, so they need to be great communicators. This includes being able to articulate their vision for the company, relay information to employees effectively, and manage expectations.
- Forward Thinking: CEOs need to be able to anticipate obstacles and challenges their company may face and plan for how to overcome them. They also need to be proactive in identifying opportunities for their company and taking advantage of them.
- Decisive: CEOs need to be able to make decisions quickly and confidently. This includes being able to weigh the pros and cons of different options, considering input from others, and making a decision that is in the best interest of the company.
- Leadership: One of the most important qualities of a CEO is leadership. This includes setting an example for others to follow, motivating employees, and inspiring confidence in those who work for them.
2. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or VP of Engineering
When your startup is strapped for resources, wearing many hats is the norm. But at some point, you’re going to have to delegate and give up control of some key areas. That’s where your CTO comes in – they’ll own the technology and engineering vision for the company while you focus on everything else.
CTO is responsible for all technical decisions, development, and ensuring that products are delivered on time and within budget. They also work with senior management to make sure that new products or features meet customer demands.
Often time, CTO at a startup also code and contribute to product development.
What makes a good Chief Technology Officer?
- Technical Expertise: They should have a deep understanding of how technology can be applied to solve business problems.
- Product Management: They need to be able to take a product from concept to launch and beyond. This includes working with cross-functional teams, writing user stories, and setting priorities.
- Leadership: A good CTO will inspire and motivate their team while also being able to make difficult decisions.
- Communication: They should be able to clearly communicate technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders.
3. Chief Product Officer (CPO)
Chief Product Officer (CPO) is another key position in a startup. As the head of product, they are responsible for creating and executing the vision for the product. This includes working with teams across the company to make sure products are launched on time and within budget. They also need to be able to understand customer needs and translate them into features that will drive growth.
What makes a good Chief Produce Officer?
- Attention To Detail: A good CPO will have strong attention to detail. They need to be able to see the big picture and understand how all the pieces fit together.
- Vision and Strategy: CPOs also need to be able to develop a product vision and strategy that meets the needs of both the customer and the company. The CPO is in charge of developing and implementing the product strategy. The CPO conceives and manages a process that leads to an expandable product portfolio that will, in turn, improve the company’s profit. They also make sure that the product and its compliance with market demands are continuously improved while providing a delightful consumer experience that is always consistent and charming.
- Strategic Thinking: A key component of a CPO’s job is being able to think strategically about the product roadmap. They need to be able to prioritize features and balance short-term gains with long-term vision.
- Leadership: As the head of product, a CPO needs to be a strong leader. They should be able to inspire and motivate teams to do their best work.
- Influence: CPOs need to be able to influence other stakeholders in the company, such as the CEO, CTO, and marketing team. They need to be able to make the case for why their product decisions are the right ones for the company.
4. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
One of the most important early hires for a startup is often its CFO – someone who can help you manage your money wisely and keep track of expenses. The last thing you want is to run out of cash before you’ve even gotten started.
What makes a good Chief Financial Officer?
- Problem-Solving Skills: One of the most effective methods to minimize risk is to be able to identify and address concerns before they become larger than necessary disruptions to your regular operations. As a result, even if it isn’t their primary responsibility, your CFO should have a good understanding of what happens each day as well as the operations abilities required to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO).
- Strategy and Innovation: The ability to identify possibilities and drive change – adapting a company’s business model to new technologies and markets – is another important financial leadership characteristic. This is a more complicated talent that a seasoned CFO will be more likely to have, owing to their experience with metrics and data they can trust.
- Fund Rasing: Your CFO needs to be able to not only manage day-to-day cash flow but also have the experience and ability to raise money from investors. They need to understand how to value your company and put together a coherent story about its potential for growth.
5. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or VP of Marketing
Marketing is key to any early-stage company, and a VP of Marketing can help you create a strategy that will reach your target audience. This person should be able to develop content, grow social media channels, and oversee PR efforts.
What makes a good Chief Marketing Officer?
- Adaptable and Creative: A CMO needs to be able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. They should also be adaptable, as the landscape of marketing is always changing.
- Strategic thinker: A CMO needs to be able to see the big picture and develop long-term plans that will help achieve the company’s goals.
- Customer First: CMO should put their customers first and always think about how they can improve the customer experience.
- Great Communicators: A CMO must be a great communicator, both written and verbally. They should be able to articulate the company’s vision and values to employees, customers, and partners.
6. Chief of Sales (COS)
A good salesperson can make all the difference when it comes to scaling your startup. They need to be able to identify potential customers and pitch your product or service in a way that convinces them to buy. Outbound salespeople are especially important in the early stages when you may not have as much brand recognition.
What makes a good Chief of Sales?
- Focus on the End Goal: COS needs to think about the ultimate goal, which is to increase revenue. They should always be thinking about how their actions will impact the bottom line.
- Excellent Communication Skills: As mentioned before, a COS needs to be able to communicate persuasively both in written and verbal form.
- Proactive: A successful salesperson is always looking for new opportunities. They’re not afraid to take risks and are always on the lookout for new ways to grow the business.
- Empathy and EQ: Salesperson needs to be able to put themselves in the shoes of their clients and understand their needs.
- Integrity: A key component of any salesperson is trustworthiness. Clients need to feel confident that they can rely on the COS not to misrepresent or mislead them in any way.
Where To Find Your First Hires
Before you start hiring, it’s important to have a good understanding of what you’re looking for. Once you know the key positions you need to fill, your next step is finding the right people to fill them.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when making this decision:
- Your core business strategy: What are your key goals and objectives? Which areas of your business are most important? Hire employees who will help you achieve these goals.
- The stage of your company: Are you just starting out or have you been up and running for a while? Each stage of a company requires different skillsets and hires.
- Your budget: You need to be realistic about what you can afford – both in terms of salaries and benefits, and in terms of the time it will take to find and vet candidates.
Once you have a good idea of what positions you need to fill, your next step is finding the right people to fill them.
There are several ways to find your first hires:
Start with people you’ve worked with before. They already know your strengths and weaknesses, and you theirs. This can help accelerate the trust-building process that’s key to any new relationship.
Personal connections are also a great way to get insights into a person’s character.
There are dozens of job boards out there, from generalists like Indeed to niche sites like AngelList, TechCrunch, Geekwire, etc.
The key is to find the right site for your needs. For example, if you’re looking for a developer, you might want to post on Stack Overflow’s jobs board.
Social media is a great place to find talent. Not only can you post job openings, but you can also search for potential candidates and reach out to them directly.
In addition, many people are now using social media to showcase their work and highlight their skills. This makes it easier for you to get a sense of their abilities before even reaching out.
Community boards are another great place to find candidates. These are online boards where people can post about anything from job openings to services they’re looking for.
If you search for community boards in your area, you’ll likely find a few that relate to your industry. For example, if you’re in the tech industry, you might want to check out the board on Reddit’s /r/sysadmin.
There are also a few national community boards that are worth checking out, such as Craigslist and Indeed. Here are the 21 best developer community boards to join and recruit.
Referrals are one of the best ways to find high-quality candidates. After all, if someone you trust recommends someone, they’re likely to be good.
There are a few different ways to get referrals. One is to simply ask your network if they know anyone who would be a good fit for the role you’re looking to fill.
If you have the budget, working with a recruiter can be a great way to find qualified candidates quickly.
They’ll handle all the heavy lifting – from writing the job ad to screening candidates – so you can focus on making the final decision.
Just keep in mind that recruiters typically take a cut of the first year’s salary, so it’s not a cheap option.
A great recruiter knows the community well, so they can help you identify key talent and make sure you’re not missing any great candidates.
Hiring your first few employees is not easy, but it’s a critical step in building your company.
By taking the time to think through your needs and casting a wide net, you’ll be able to find the right people for the job.
Our recruiter picks for recruiting these roles:
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