Bad employees may be the wrong title for this chapter. After all, with rare exception, it’s not that the people are bad but just like you need to make sure you’ve got the product-market fit right, you need to make sure you’ve got people to position fit too.

Often you just need help. You can’t do it all yourself. Can you spell marketing? Great, you’re hired. Do you know what LAMP stands for? Perfect, you sit over here. Did you run sales for a $100M company?  Excellent, you will solve our revenue trajectory.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Early Stage Hires

Early stage hires are just that. They are the people who can help you get things done relatively inexpensively and can wear many hats. They may not be the people who will lead your future years of growth.

Big company people and entrepreneurs sometimes seem like they are from different universes. Think: assembling the chair analogy. Big company people are used to structure, hierarchy, processes. They may even bitch about all of the above, but they might not be able to thrive in an environment in which they are still being formulated.

Sometimes there is not a good fit.

Big company marketing people often excel with a staff of people management reviews, powerpoint decks, and large budgets. They tend to be a little less hands-on and in the trenches with the founders. They think of the brand. They think powerpoint. They think collateral. They might not think product-market-fit or customer acquisition.

Big company salespeople will excel at big strategic account initiatives, and presenting to higher level teams. They tend to be less hands-on as well and are reluctant to do the day to day tasks of farming to build out a pipeline. They expect that deals will be handed to them and already qualified by a sea of lower level salespeople. In a small company having someone with big company background is not always a great fit.

Big company developers are also another area that you must be able to hire properly.  These types of people are often not flexible on using new tools or architecting to scale and in some cases not familiar with SaaS models and solutions like AWS or Azure as they are managed in different ways at the larger organizations.  They also tend to be less able to troubleshoot when the going gets tough as that is a completely different area of a larger organization. In reality, development talent at the early stages is usually able to help with cobbling the pieces together whereas you grow and you need to architect big more broad solutions those with larger company experience may be beneficial based on the training of how it was done at a much bigger scale.

Big company executives, now this subject is typically a very delicate one. Many believe that if you are an executive at a big company then you are on top of everything and understand how to do a lot of things.  This is false in our experience. An executive at a larger company sometimes just happens to be at the right place at the right time and falls into that position because they have a lot of other great people around them doing the day to day work.  Bringing a person like this into a smaller organization means to expect them to not have the ability to roll up their sleeves and execute day to day more tactical tasks. This is the ivory tower analogy, where people are happily cut off from the rest of the world in favor of their own pursuits by sitting behind the desk and watching everyone else work as orders are barked out.   

As Yoda once said “Do or do not.  There is no try”!

Last modified: June 21, 2019

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