Hiring Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs


You’re a first-time entrepreneur. You have an idea that will change the world and you have been fortunate to find an investor to fund it. Now you’re faced with your biggest challenge yet. How are you going to recruit people to join you on this mission?

Here are some hiring tips to help you get started. I also included insights from two entrepreneurs who have been very successful at hiring top performers: Jason Jacobs, the co-founder and CEO of RunKeeper, and Boris Revsin, co-founder & CEO of CampusLIVE, whom I’ve helped recruit a senior director of product and analytics.

1.  Make a plan.

Hiring the best people is critical to your success so you need a strategy or roadmap to do it well (like any other aspect of your business).

Start off by prioritizing which positions need to be hired first by determining the importance they will have to your business today. Then write a detailed profile of the ideal candidates. Jacobs adds, “They say when fundraising, if you ask for money you get advice and if you ask for advice, you get money. Hiring is the same way. Reach out to people you think would be perfect for the role and get their advice on how you are thinking about the position.”

Of course, the recruiting pipeline doesn’t just fill up with top candidates automatically. It takes a lot of work. You should outline a project plan with specific tasks that will help you build your list of prospective candidates. Here are some ideas and tasks you should follow to help you set goals and measure your success.

2.  Work your network.

Working your network is a crucial piece of any successful recruiting effort. You should already be diligent about connecting with people on LinkedIn, which helps. And this point cannot be emphasized enough: A-plus players know other A-plus players. “You want the people you trust to recommend other top performers,” says Revsin.

Another great suggestion from Revsin: make your advisors and investors an extension of your recruiting efforts. They have extensive networks that should open up introductions to key people in the industry. Ask them to help make introductions for you. After all, they too are invested in your success.

3.  Get out there.

You are your company’s chief evangelist! People need to see the passion in your vision and believe that the climb is worthwhile. So you need to be out there and visible in the community.  Every major city has networking events going on within your industry.  Attend big events like NY Tech Meetup in New York or WebInno in Boston, but also find out about smaller groups where people are talking about topics relevant to your business.

While networking is central to recruiting, it also helps build your brand and creates buzz. Once people are talking about your company, you might actually get requests from candidates actively seeking to work for you.

4.  Recruit all the time.

You never know when you are going to be meeting someone who could be your next hire. Have your recruiting hat on at all times.

And if you already have a co-founder or a few early employees, make sure they are all out there helping out with the recruiting efforts too.  Everyone should be involved, especially in the early stages. Make sure your story is consistent from everyone. Getting a mixed message about the position or the vision of the company is a red flag for most candidates.

5.  Aim high.

If you are going to build a successful company, you need to find the best of the best employees. If you truly believe that your company offers amazing opportunities, be fearless and go after the top performers out there. Yes, people do leave Google.

You will want to move quickly, but don’t just hire for the sake of having a warm body in the seat. Take your time and do the proper amount of due diligence to help ensure you are making the right hires.

Jacobs validates this point. “If you aren’t over the moon about the hire you are about to make, don’t hire [him or her]. Every single hire in an early stage company is critically important to get right.”

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“Keith and Eric possess a focus that is unmatched in the Boston tech community for product and marketing focused hires. We worked with their team to fulfill a very specific product profile that quite frankly would be difficult to find in our ecosystem. They helped us nab the most exemplary candidate that exists. Period. We are so pumped now to have not only a new, totally kick-ass co-worker alongside us, but an awesome talent finding duo in Keith and Eric. We plan on working with them for years to come for our recruiting needs. These guys rock and they make me very proud.”

Ryan Durkin, COO

“Dissero has been a valuable partner in sourcing several key senior members for our marketing, sales, and product teams.  They’re very effective at understanding our needs and culture, and they make the interview process efficient by sending us highly qualified candidates.  They also provide helpful assistance throughout the process of closing candidates and ensuring a successful transition into the business.”

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder & CEO

“Dissero empowered us to recruit high quality critical hires without taking too much time away from running our business. Their services are invaluable for any start-up going through a hyper growth phase.”

Hayley Barna, Co-Founder

After spinning our wheels for months on a few key Product searches, we engaged Dissero.  Eric and Keith did an excellent job delivering high-quality, interested candidates who fit our requirements and our culture.  We have worked with many agencies; Dissero is top-of-the-heap when it comes to delivering results efficiently.  They’ll be our first call next time we have a tough search.

Matt Zisow, COO

“Dissero is an exceptional recruiting partner which operates with the highest level of integrity and values.  WordStream relies on Dissero for filling many of our most critical and strategic roles including a recent successful search for a VP of Product.  Without fail, every candidate we see has been well vetted and meets the core requirements of the role, and most importantly is a great culture fit for our company.”

Ralph Folz, CEO
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“On one hand, of course, you’re joining a startup for the upside.  Not just financial upside, but also the upside of making an impact in an organization, working in small teams with other exceptional people, involvement with cutting-edge technology, and working with other motivated people.”

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