When you’re an entrepreneur, it can feel like you’re an army of one. You’re the leader, the captain of the ship. But you’re also the chief innovator, strategizer, salesman extraordinaire and signer of paychecks.
While it’s great to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the various departments of your company, if you try to manage it all you’ll quickly burn out or worse, go under. In order to grow your profits and become a lean, mean, revenue generating machine, you need to build a dream team that will make your business run.
One of the biggest questions a founder must ask is this: who do I hire? And when? As you steer your business toward maximum profitability, follow this guide for hiring the right types of people who will help your business grow.
1. An Operations Person
First and foremost, your business needs to, well, run. When you’re just getting your business off the ground, this responsibility lies solely on you. As you start to grow, though, you need to take yourself out of the operations equation as soon as possible and do it in the most effective way. Why? Because if you’re mired in the day-to-day management of projects and clients, you’ll never be able to focus on the big-picture view that’s needed to scale big and scale fast.
An operations person can take many forms. It might be as high-level as a vice president of operations all the way down to a project coordinator. The role you choose to hire for depends on your budget and the structure of your company, but this individual should be detail-oriented and able to ensure that what needs to get done gets done to keep the pipeline moving.
2. A Numbers Person
If you run out of cash, it’s game over. Sure, you probably have an idea of whether you’re in the red or in the black, but you need someone who’s laser focused on the financial details to ensure costs are controlled and revenue optimized.
For some businesses, a bookkeeper is enough to manage the finances. For others, a CFO will be a better fit. In a nutshell, a bookkeeper is responsible for recording day-to-day financial transactions and making sure a company’s books are accurate, while a CFO takes a broader approach and steers the company’s overall financial direction.
Related: CFO Responsibilities Explained
It’s worth noting that your numbers person doesn’t have to be a full-time staff member. In fact, online bookkeeping services like Ignite Spot are becoming more and more common. We offer virtual bookkeeping, virtual CFO services and more to keep the financial side of your business on track while saving you the cost of a full-timer’s salary and benefits.
3. A Strategist
Once you’ve got your operations and finances covered, the business should be more or less able to run smoothly from one day to the next. Now it’s time to think about growth. A strategist like a marketing director is a great next hire to help you map the path your business will take to get to the next level.
Your strategist should be able to plan and execute growth-oriented projects like marketing campaigns, advertising, social media and more. They should work hand in hand with your operations person to ensure their campaigns are aligned with the day-to-day and seasonal activities of the business. They should also work with your finance person to ensure the budget they’re spending is proving a financial return.
Your strategist might be a single person who wears many hats at first and later expand into an entire department as you grow.
4. A Salesperson
Many entrepreneurs hire a salesperson first. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s tough to take an aggressive approach to sales when the other elements of the business, like finance and operations, aren’t running smoothly first. Think about it this way: if your salesperson landed a million-dollar deal tomorrow, would you have the systems in place to support that kind of influx? The answer should be yes, and this is why we placed sales at number four on our list.
Also, as an entrepreneur, you’ll always be your company’s biggest salesman. If you aren’t selling it from the heart each and every day, how can you expect a salesperson to? Hire a sales rep once you’ve established the basic systems needed to run your business.
5. A People Person
By this point, your team (and your revenue) has started to grow. Your people are one of your most important assets, and at this point it’s time to start thinking about what that community of people will look like six months, a year and five years down the road.
What kind of roles do you need to hire next? Who will handle that process? It’s time to hire someone in charge of your people.
A people person, like an HR director, can help you manage your hiring process and oversee areas that are important for a growing company, like benefits and payroll.
The Right Credentials
The resumes have started rolling in. Awesome! Now it’s time to take a closer look at those credentials to winnow down who’s really going to be the right fit. Here are a few things to consider.
Don’t get star struck by candidates just because they have big, impressive employers on their resume. Someone who was an operations director managing 500 people at a large firm is likely fantastic, but has a very different set of skills than that of someone who has helped a startup attract its first 20 employees. The latter is the skillset you need—look for credentials that match.
It’s also another pitfall to get too caught up in technical skills in the early stages of your company. When you’re part of a growing team, being adaptable and a problem-solver is so much more important than knowing how to use a particular computer program. Hard skills like Microsoft Excel can be taught; soft skills like problem solving and leadership sometimes cannot, though they’re essential to scale your business.
And a final word on narrowing down candidates: be mindful of the tendency to look for another you. The company already has a founder; it doesn’t need another one! Steer your company toward growth and profit by hiring your weaknesses, AKA people whose skills complement, not replicate yours.
Explore All Options
Hiring is one of the scariest parts of starting a business, and rightfully so. Not only are you handing over the reins to someone who’s not you, but the future of your company hinges on hiring the right people for the right job.
The great news is that the modern workplace isn’t limited to nine-to-fivers who need the promise of a cubicle and a 401(k) to come to work for you. Remote work is more popular and widespread than ever before, with freelancers now making up a third of the total American workforce.
As you build your dream team, explore all options, including outsourcing and remote workers. At Ignite Spot all of our accountants are 100% US-based and are 60% more affordable than full-time staff members on average. Learn more about our online bookkeeping services for small businesses here. And remember, virtual team members aren’t limited to accounting. Our clients have great success outsourcing their marketing, HR, customer support and other departments.
Making The Connection
Until you’ve got a people person in charge of attracting the best talent, chances are you’re doing the legwork of hiring yourself. The very best place to turn when you’re hiring your first five employees is your existing network.
Tap friends, colleagues, former coworkers and mentors to spread the word that you’re looking to grow your team. It’s the secret all top recruiters know: great people are the best places to turn to find other great people.
But don’t just rely on your network to track down the perfect candidate. Make it known that you’re looking! Add a ‘Careers’ section to your website. Add a line that says ‘We’re hiring!’ to your email signature. Share the job description on your social media accounts. Remember that the best talent often isn’t looking for a job, so you’ve got to take steps to put yourself in front of them, too.
Get Out Of The Way
I read an interview with Warren Buffett where he was asked the secret to his business success. He said, “I hire great people and I get out of their way” (or something to that effect). I thought it was such a valuable piece of advice.
Part of the reason hiring is so nerve-wracking is that in a way, you’re handing over the keys to the castle you’ve built by hand. It’s a trust thing. But in order for your dream team to do stellar work, you’ve got put your trust in them and let them do it. Hire your all-stars, then get out of their way.
Are you in the process of hiring your first few employees? Leave us a comment and let us know how you plan to approach it.
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