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.