29 September 2020 1:37pm 2 min read

A Hiring Tip Every Founder Needs To Hear

Knowing who to hire and when is one of the biggest challenges for any early-stage startup. As you grow it becomes easier, you know what is working and what you need and you end up simply hiring more of it. But in the early days, from 10 to 25 employees, you don’t really know what works and so founders often struggle. Since their largest expense is typically employee salaries, hiring is a critical decision. 

Here’s one tip I learned from the school of hard knocks: somewhere between your tenth and 25th hire, every startup should hire an office manager/executive assistant. 

Let me explain. 

The nervous energy was surging through my veins. I was standing in the wings, about to go on stage and give a presentation to a packed house. And then my phone rang. 

Annoyed. I looked down and saw that it was my head of sales. I silenced the call and continued pumping myself up for my talk. 

And then it rang a second time. Once again, I silenced the call. 

As an early stage company, this presentation was the type of opportunity I had longed for. It was a chance to introduce myself and my startup, Distil, to an audience of prospective buyers. 

And then he called for a third time. Something must be wrong. With my stomach in my throat, anticipating the worst case scenario, I answered. 

“What’s going on?” I snapped. “I’m literally about to go on stage.”

“Rami,” he said. “We’re out of water.”

Oh right. I was the water guy. 

Knowing when to hire

A lot happens when a startup begins to scale. There is so much work that needs to be done that everyone grabs as many jobs as they can handle. As the founder and CEO, your plate is always full. Knowing what to keep on your plate and what to offload comes with experience. 

In the early days of Distil, I was the person who, each week, ordered the water jugs so we had drinking water in the office. But since I was traveling for the conference I was speaking at, I had forgotten. No one else knew how to do this because there had never been a need. Until now. 

As I was about to go on stage, I learned the valuable lesson I am sharing with you now: hire an office manager. There are so many things that are important for the business to be running smoothly that, at a certain point, should no longer be the founder’s responsibility. Winning customers. Hiring talent. Evangelizing the brand. Those are where you should be focusing. No one else can do that like you. 

Ensuring there is drinking water available is something that can be outsourced. Knowing what to focus on is often what separates the companies that succeed with the ones that fail. 

Fortunately, I resolved the water situation before going on stage and then I gave a solid presentation. But I now know the topic for my next presentation to founders: when to hire an office manager!

Rami Essaid
Chief Executive Officer

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