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The first startup hire: Who should it be?

Posted by Kanika Sinha

December 20, 2015

Your startup is your baby. You’ve nurtured it, fed it and watched a dream become a reality. This is why your first hire is the most important hire for your startup. You’re looking for someone who is passionate, trustworthy and motivated to see your business grow.

As an entrepreneur, you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. You want to make sure your personalities can co-exist together, and you want to ensure your first hire is solidly onboard with your goals and ambitions.

In this article we’re going to discuss your first startup hire and who it should be. First, let’s talk about the traits you are looking for in your first startup hire.

Your first startup hire looks like this

1. Your first hire is self-motivated and tough. Look for candidates who have a track record of standing on their own two feet and driving big results in their last job. Your first hire should be confident but not arrogant.

2. Your first startup hire should have a strong interest or passion for causes or missions that are similar to yours. This means you share something and can start on common ground.

3. You have to trust them. Your first startup hire is likely to feel more like a business partner than an employee because of the nature of your initial, intimate relationship. Since you’re looking for someone who is self-motivated, you certainly want to trust them and know that they believe in your mission statement and value proposition.

4. Your first hire should come highly recommended, or at least be referred to you by someone you respect. Using your network of connections to find your first hire is a good idea.

5. This person believes wholeheartedly in your mission. If they’re there for the paycheck, or their buy-in sounds rehearsed, they are not the first hire for you.

6. The first hire is willing to work hard. You aren’t looking for the person who wants to sit behind a desk and order others around. Your first startup hire needs to be willing to roll up his or her sleeves and get down to business quickly and efficiently. 

Consider your needs

Look at your areas of strength and of weakness. Pay attention to your tasks that could be delegated to allow you to concentrate more on your areas of strength.

Your first hire should be strong in what you are weak in. The first hire should complement your skills, networks and functional capabilities.

Think about the knowledge and skill set you are looking for. Decide if the first startup hire is a temporary position until you get off the ground or a permanent one. Are you looking for a full-time or part-time employee or a consultant?


The first startup hire

Startups are all different and thus, they have different needs in the first startup hire. Most new CEOs or startup owners, though, can benefit from hiring one of the following positions as the first startup hire:

• Sales and Marketing – if this isn’t one of your areas of strength, this first startup hire is vital to your success.
• Chief Financial Officer – this position is important because this person can help you with contracts, financial models and raising equity.
• Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper – if your basic needs are administrative, this is a great first startup hire.
• Customer Support – if you’re already selling products, you need this person as your first hire.

Final words

First, while we know your budget is part of the big picture when you are getting ready for your first startup hire, don’t let it be your first consideration. Since your new employee needs to be self-motivated, confident, trustworthy and a hard worker, you aren’t looking for a new, fresh-out-of-school employee.

Newbies to the workforce require more training and more guidance. This equates to more of your time. Remember – one qualified person can outwork and outperform several in-experienced people or interns.

Lastly, when considering your first startup hire, think outside the box. Sometimes outsourcing and/or hiring a contractor or freelancer is the best way to go. Outsourcing usually involves people who are highly-skilled and trained and need little guidance from you.

Whether your startup is still in the garage or already preparing for an IPO, if you don’t have the time to go through the hiring process, we are here for you. Outsource your finances, payroll, HR duties and more to us. ContactEscalon today to get started.  


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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