The Missing Link

10 thoughts on “The Missing Link”

  1. Another thing to do is to hold back titles. Never give out VP, E, or C level titles until you are absolutely sure that the person you hired can definitely fill that role. Give them “Head of…” or “Director of…” or even “Manager” for now and set their expectations that they are leading their team, but you are evaluating them to see whether they can really fill the larger role or not.

    You can always promote, but removing someone from a title is generally a painful thing no matter what the circumstance.}

  2. Good points you’re making there, we (me, my two co-founders and investors) may have to start hiring people in a few months or so. This was pretty helpful.}

  3. One point to make sure of also – when bringing someone one, make sure they can be in a startup. For instance, you may hire the person with all the industry knowledge in the world and you may think “wow he is our saving grace, he is THE GUY (or girl)” but what you may come to find out is that he is the guy when there is a $2 million sales budget behind him not the guy you need to scrape, call and pound the pavement to get a job done. I think that in many cases when there is advice to “add some people with experience” you immediately think “industry knowledge” not startup experience.}

  4. To address the title thing also, it is so important to set expectations, especially in the case of raising funding. Director of…. is the best title around because that sets everyone’s expectations and you can say “when we go to fill a VP type of roll we can sit down and discuss together if you think you are the right person for this or not. You will have every opportunity to be considered”. I think this is especially important in sales. Your best sales person most likely isn’t your best candidate for VP of Sales but in many cases those first few sales people want the title.}

  5. I think there are two major traits which are desireable in staffing a startup…but which are difficult to find. One trait is that the person is hungry…meaning they are willing to do most anything in the company to make sure that things run smoothly as possible…including sweeping the floor and making coffee. The other trait would be that this person has some sort of track record running a company, however small…or maybe just captaining a sailboat…in order to have the understanding of responsibility. That they have failed before is not so important…and may be a good thing. As a startup, you do not have time to be a personel manager…motivator maybe…but managing 9-to-five thinkers obviously is not in the cards.}

  6. I think half the battle is realizing when you and your partners are in over your head and acknowledging that if you want your business to succeed, you simply have to bite the bullet and bring in other executives. This is particularly crucial if you want to keep your own love of the project alive.

    Our company is at the stage where we’re bringing in more talented people from our personal circle. I don’t think we’re quite ready to bring in a true “outsider” but I think your advice works well even for our current level of hiring.}

  7. I completely agree with David’s point, above, regarding job titles. It’s always a bad sign when you come across an early stage company that already has “VP soup”; creates the impression that it’s full of opportunists who may very well be talented but aren’t necessarily willing to do the hard work themselves.}

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