6 of our companies raised additional capital this quarter — which has been exciting, but has also made me realize how unprepared most entrepreneurs are to hire their first employees.
All of those companies I mentioned raised seed rounds, meaning the people they are hiring are employees number: 3, 4, 5 & 6. It means the people they hire will be fucking crazy important. Not only are they going to define how talented the rest of the team will be, those hires will also define the culture of those companies.
We often hear how difficult it is to hire engineers and the solutions we’ve turned to have been tools like Angel List, Hired.com, Indeed, Craig’s List, our networks, coding academies, career fares (and probably others?).
But the best solution — and probably the most high yielding, is to hire in advance. What the hell does hiring in advance mean?
It means that I already know who I’ll be hiring within the next two, to three years.
I have an excel document that lists all of the people and friends I’ve met in the last four years who I consider awesome. I know their vesting schedules, what company they’re at, what technologies they’re comfortable with, what roles they play at each company, what city they live in, what city they want to live in, and even where their boyfriends and girlfriends live (in case they get married).
I know that if things go right I’ll be hiring UI/UX engineers, product managers & mobile developers and front-end developers in the next 18 months (we already are hiring a couple of PM’s). And I’m already recruiting for positions that won’t be open for 12 more months. I don’t have the money to hire those people yet, and I’m not leading anyone on by holding job interviews for those positions, but I’ve already started doing high-level recruiting for future openings. I’ve already started selling the dream to people who may make sense to hire.
I am assuming we will have the money in 12 months to hire them. If in 12 to 18 months we don’t, I have way bigger problems. Shit went south. I’m fucked. The world is over.
But if things go right, I’ll be hiring and I’ll be prepared. I’ll have been recruiting people 12 months before I’m ready to hire them — not once I already have the money. By that time, it’s too late.
One of my biggest priorities is to wake up every single day and meet people who can help us and our portfolio companies build amazing businesses. I am becoming pretty disciplined about not taking meetings that aren’t mission critical, but I consider meeting great talent mission critical — because even if I can’t hire you now, or one of our portfolio companies can’t hire you now, I want to meet you.
Being reactionary is the most devastating thing a company can do, and waiting to recruit until you need someone is practically the definition of reactionary.
I’ll also take this one step further: Be the person in your friend group others would want to work for. Think about your best friends — then think about whether or not you’d work for each one of them. There are some friends that I bet you’d work for and others who you wouldn’t — all for a variety of reasons.
Be the type of person others would want to work for. Be kind, be inspirational, be supportive, be helpful and kick ass at everything you do. Be a magnet for talent, even before you need to be.
Wake up every single day and be ready to go to battle, and be ready to build a team that inspires the hell out of you. Because a company is really just a collection of people, and if you don’t get that right, you’re beyond help.