What are the first positions I should fill in my start-up?
The amount of work is overwhelming and I need help with sales, marketing, administration and operations.
But I can’t hire everyone I need straightaway. What should the priority areas be?
The question you need to consider is: Why do you need help with sales? If it’s your business, my philosophy is that you need to be the sales person.
This is important because you are the one with the vision for the growth of your business. If work is overwhelming you obviously have the sales talent, so that is not your problem. To sell effectively you must be passionate about your idea and not afraid to leave the back-end of your business to the experts.
Every business benefits from adding a talented sales person to the pay role, but you need to make sure you can continue to meet customer, product and service demand with the same quality and standards for current sales before you seek to expand.
Marketing and public relations should be carefully considered. Don’t combine this role with administration. Many people do this but don’t reach their full marketing potential. If you want excellent marketing then you need to hire someone who is an expert in marketing; not an administrator. They aren’t the same thing.
If you are already getting great sales you may not need marketing. However, don’t forget great sales mean great promotional and media opportunities. Perhaps consider outsourcing this function until you have the capacity to bring it in-house.
This is exactly my approach. I recently started my own public relations and marketing communications business. We work for SMEs and are a great resource for start-ups seeking cost-effective, ad-hoc marketing and PR results. Our clients love that they don’t need to commit a full-time salary but still get to promote their businesses and have this support and advice when they need it, for a low cost.
An operations manager is an excellent resource. This person will quickly become your right hand.
Perhaps combining operations and administration is a good way to go for you or consider hiring an operations manager and junior administrator to support you as founder if you can afford it. Operations provide you with the back-end structure and detail while you concentrate on selling.
Ultimately the first positions you fill will depend on the type of business you have. Carefully assess the returns and value of each role before you commit.
Start-ups should consider outsourcing all of these roles in the short-term on a project-by-project basis to measure their value and effectiveness before committing them to the payroll.