Good news is that you are producing revenue! Congratulations. In my opinion, your best bet is to find someone with a good sales track record, relationship building/ communication and leadership skills-set that can help assist in building your sales force, marketing strategy as well as develop your product.
Someone with an extensive marketing background that can handle PR, branding, social media strategy and create strategic alliances.
I am working with early startups and assisting them with management consulting services. Here is my suggestion: (1) make sure you have a well-versed back office supporting you. Why? Because as you may get a sudden growth, you may start writing proposals, bid and win government contacts and grants, you will need budgeting, updated books, taxes filed in time, cost proposal assistance, assistance with hiring (and firing) employees, setting up a benefit package attractive to new employees, etc. And in the startup world, things change fast, so you may not have time to carefully look for "someone" do any of the above tasks - and some of them are only on "as-needed" basis. I would consider building a relationship with a consulting company that offers these all, so you just need to pick up the phone and you have a specialist working on your ad hoc tasks, your books are taken care of and your taxes are OK. (2) hire someone who is well-connected in the line of business you are in. The person probably has 20 years of experience at least and is well-known in the field. It will be a very expensive hire but if you pick wisely, it will be worth the investment. (3) if you can, hire some very young people who want to agressively grow in your field - challenge them any way you can. The best and brightest ones will shine and push your company to the stars. (4) make sure you have a good lawyer, highly experienced with startups. (5) hire a "social networker" - and i mean someone who can write blogs, tweeter, facebook, newsletters... it does not have to be a marketing guru. A college student with good writing skills and interest in your field may be a good bet - just choose wisely.
I can personally help you with the first one listed, (and i can recommend some exceptional lawyers if you need one). Our firm is specialized in startups, offering full range backoffice services virtually (and face-to-face as well if needed). If you are interested, please check us out: http://myvirtualcorporate.com/. You can also email me any time, I am glad to assist any way i can. My email: email@example.com. Good luck! Sylvia
These are excellent answers. Thank you. I have been contemplating finding a sales / distribution partner for larger accounts so I agree with the advice to find sales help. What sorts of questions would you ask of a sales / distribution partner and what sort of qualities would you advise in a good sales / distribution partner?
Certainly a diverse skill set which is a requirement of the start up (IP).
My criteria for start up hires harks back to the buyers fear model...
Intention, Integrity, Competency, Results.
Sales and marketing person who has a good eye for talent would be a Godsend!
This person will help with getting more clients, and also help hire people to actually execute the orders :)
I think it depends on the business. In my particular case I provide a service, so my first hire (which I am in the process of now) is for someone who can continue to provide the service which will generate income.
If I look at my other business which is product related, I would most likely get a sales person to generate more sales/income. Not that that business is at that stage yet.
If you are in production I would suspect that the first person you would hire will be someone who you can delegate non revenue making jobs to so you can free up your time to do the income generating tasks.
In essence it will come down to working out what is the best way to increase your sales and revenue. That is why most of us are here :)
With working with so many entrepreneurs I find the best place to start is to find people who have strengths that match your weaknesses. This will help to start rounding out your team. One that I feel is one of the most important is either hiring or outsourcing your accounting, too many business owners try to do it themselves without realizing the importance of this part of the business. Accounting may not be a revenue generating position but it can be more effective.
Many businesses, especially today, start with profit and social responsibility desires. As such, they sell a service or produce a product (tech., e.g.) to begin with, and usually the founder gets it started. Most then make the mistake of trying to continue doing everything instead of hiring someone who can bring in funds (sales or business/grant writer) and who knows enough about the financial and investment stuff to let the organization look organized. Good grant writers who have experience operationalizing projects usually have these benefits and can talk to grantmakers, investors, business/CPA folks, etc., while making the story of the business clear. Without this, sales and planning all tend to fall away making your business weaker in the near future.
An entrepreneurial COO - who can help continue to drive sales, strengthen and expand alliances, structure finances, handle HR/recruiting and scale operations/IT.
Context dictates the right answer to this question. If you and your core team built and launched the company and it's now in revenue, congratulations. Who you put on the payroll first depends on a number of variables tied to your specific goals. You can stretch payroll dollars by hiring some of your executives part-time until revenues support a full-time salary AND you need their expertise full-time (e.g., a CFO, a COO). To determine what staff role to hire someone for first, look at what hats you are wearing in the company. Which of those roles do you want to delegate first - either because you are not the best at it (most entrepreneurs are not great bookkeepers or CPAs)or because it's the job you like the least (maybe it's copywriting or design of your marketing materials) or maybe because it's so time consuming and you could hire someone at a much lower hourly rate than your time is worth (a virtual assistant).
Get creative and resourceful to stretch every dollar of revenue to maximize the return for your young enterprise. Good luck.
It depends at what stage in the company lifecycle you are at. As a business grows, it will experience various pain points. These pain points might be one of market growth in which case you need sales and marketing people, or it might be one of delivery capacity in which case you need operations folks, or it might be you need product updates in whichg case you need more developers.
I don't think there is any one single answer.
Congratulations Justin! Producing revenue must mean you have a product or service your market is buying. I will assume you are already outsourcing some positions with a CPA etc.
The key of course is you cannot pay bills with revenue..it takes cash to grow the business. I would recommend your first hire be a sales professional . They must understands selling in your market. They must also understand how and will collect the receivable.
I am not exactly sure when you are referring to. If the start-up is revenue producing, someone must be producing the revenue. THe people to hire generally fall into two categories.
First you need to hire those people to do the work that produces the revenue and second those people to manage and maintain the work. In some of my start-ups the person who does the work and the person who maintains the work are both me (the founder) so it is about hiring to delegate so the business can grow. In others, I have technology that does the work and I need a better sales person to increase revenue followed by a good account manager to maintain the revenue I generate (B2B).
Of course you always need to keep your offering relevant as well.
To me, the most important people to find are your board of directors as they can fill in or guide you in these matters specific to your enterprise. For example, a CFO though importnat depends on cash flow, financing, and your financial accumen.
In essence, the answer is "that depends."
Preferably, someone with a mixed of Human Resources and Finance background. Then a team can be build around those individuals.