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Hiring Your First Executive

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hiring an employee

When you first start a company, you’re your full executive team. While you might have people working for you like developers and sales staff, you bear the burden of decision making alone. This has its advantages: you set your own policy beholden to no one but yourself, and communicate it directly to everyone in your company. You can be very agile as you can make and enact decisions at your own fast pace, rather than seeking the agreement of a committee. It’s also exhausting, and means you aren’t always making the right decisions. You’re only one person, and the addition of other points of view in high level decision making will make your business more robust.

Despite the obvious advantages of taking on your first executive, it can be difficult to let go of the reigns and allow others into your privileged position. Here’s a quick guide that should make it a little more transparent for you.

Know What You Need

It’s important to be honest with yourself when you’re hiring. You need to use this as an opportunity to shore up your weak areas, bringing in experience and skills you don’t have. If you go into denial instead and hire from a similar background to yourself, with similar experience you will have wasted a large amount of resources and set yourself up for failure.

Decide where you need experience and hire someone who can supply that need. If you’re very strong on the product you’re developing but don’t have skills to sell it effectively, you need someone with a stellar track record in sales, however tempting it might be hire in a fellow developer. This is a way to get locked into a spiral of unchecked ambition for your product, and feature creep that can never be contained.

Similarly if you’re a serial entrepreneur, well-practiced at selling a business to investors you need the honest insight to see that you need experts in the product to ground you and ensure the quality of what you’re selling.

Go to the Experts

It’s difficult to pluck exactly the right executive for you out of the air when you’re hiring for the first time. Your professional network is underdeveloped, and your business isn’t on the radar of people looking for work.

Finding the right Executive Search firm is the key to success here. Try talking with other business owners in the same position: a personal recommendation can make all the difference in finding a firm that can work with you over the years of your company’s life.

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