Your startup team is an asset and one of the most important investments you will make in the early stages of your venture. Especially in the beginning, with just an idea, your first hires are essentially like co-founders who work with you to prove and build a startup.
Before you build a product, you need to figure out what to build. A talented team can build an exceptional product, but if the solution doesn’t solve a problem, it doesn’t matter how good the apps look and function.
The best time to make your first hire is the day you start your startup. Here are three reasons why.
1. It’s A Relief
Do not underestimate how much a programmer, marketer, or whomever you need on your team can help you figure out what to do and how to do it. Over the years, I found that involving a team or recruit since day one is a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
The early stages of a startup are challenging, especially if it is your first startup. The challenge is not necessarily in the work you need to put in to take your idea to market. It’s the uncertainty of the startup journey that is exhausting. Everything you do is based on hypotheses and observations. What you think is true can be wrong and what you think is wrong can be surprisingly true.
One day you may wonder how you got to run a significantly different startup from what you initially believed you needed to build. The journey comes with many unexpected insights and surprises. Having someone who can push you, help you, challenge you and hustle with you is priceless.
2. It Can Reduce Costs
I found that involving a team member since the beginning significantly reduces future overhead costs that would have been invested in plans and projects your recruit could have helped you realize they wouldn’t have worked.
You can hire and ask your recruits to do exactly what you need. Or you can ask what they think you need based on their experience. Or you can ask them to work with you on figuring out what you need while using their experience to focus on testing the right hypotheses and making educated conclusions. As a founder, you will probably follow all of these three approaches.
By definition, a startup in the early stages is in a search phase seeking to find a repeatable and scalable business model. While experience helps, speaking with customers, running validation tests and experiments are critical for identifying problems worth solving. Get your team member involved in this stage.
3. It’s A Testing Phase
Product design and development are most likely going to take the biggest portion of your startup investment. Some of the biggest reasons why startups fail include making the wrong hire, building the wrong product, building a poor solution and running out of cash. All of which can be avoided with the right recruit or team.
A talented and passionate team member who cares will push for a validation phase, share their strengths and weaknesses, consider your budget in their product development roadmap while accounting for possible future iterations and pivots. They may work for you but they will treat your venture as if they were your co-founders. Their main success metric is not a product launched but a product used.
This pre-development phase is the best time to evaluate your hire. Besides giving yourself an opportunity to evaluate the fit before making a bigger investment, especially if it is in product development, you may realize the partnership can turn into a co-founding relationship.