The Hiring Mistake All Startups Make

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

You have a mini-episode once a month about where your next wave of sales will be coming from. You have so many other to-dos to attend to, but you also need to carve out time to bring money through the door. You cycle through this cash flow problem every month. You struggle to finish all the work you have on deck while also working on bringing in sales.

So you decide to hire a Coordinator, or another entry-level hire to help you with your workload.

You absolutely cannot attend to all the needs of your startup. It’s impossible and it’s inefficient. The most obvious solution that the majority of entrepreneurs resort to is exporting their work to other people. You may hire someone into an Associate, Coordinator, or Assistant role to help you with the additional work.

The Mistake

For the majority of startups craving growth, making an entry-level hire can be a misaligned solution to the problem at hand.

Although hiring entry-level team members can be a large workload relief, if the problem that needs to be tackled is cash flow, you may be assigning the wrong solution to your problem.

Solving executive-level problems requires executive-level solutions.

To solve cash flow issues, you actually may need to hire a CFO or a business consultant who can remedy the problem at hand. An entry-level hire will only provide support, but cannot provide transformational solutions for your business.

What’s the culprit for this common mistake? I attribute this to entrepreneurs simply mimicking the corporate hiring style of their past workplaces, where once a company grows, the company typically hires more support staff to help with the workload. This hiring style, however, is not a fit for a startup — hiring an entry-level team member is only appropriate if a startup has already reached explosive sales, and now needs someone to maintain it. 

For a startup, you need to hire backwards.

Let’s say that your organization is 3 years old, and you want your sales to increase by 60% next year. Your desired increase in sales needs to match the investment you make in it. 

Will an entry-level hire bring you an explosion in sales? Nope. 

You’ll need guided expertise from someone who has accomplished those sales boosts before. If generating an increase in sales were as easy as hiring a Coordinator to send hundreds of cold pitches and help with workload distribution, a lot of businesses would be far more cash flow positive than they are now.

The Solution

Think about where you want your startup to be 3–5 years from now and hire the person that’ll make that happen. 

Sure, it’s a bigger investment, but thankfully in today’s digital marketplace, there are plenty of business consultants and growth specialists around the world who only need to work with you for a few months in order to help you structure your future. With access to a larger talent pool, you can also find someone within your desired budget. 

Once you have your growth equation in place, you can hire an entry-level employee to execute, and reap the transformational benefits from smart and strategic hiring.


Sophia Sunwoo