Starting Out Startup

Starting Out Startup

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I’ve done (and would like to do) differently as I start to grow As with any founder, in the early days you live and breathe everything about the business, at all hours of the day (and night) – Will the product meet the needs of the market? When should I hire my first employee? What should that first hire look like? How do I set us up to successfully go from startup to scale-up? The list never ends. I wanted to share some of the things that are top of mind for me as we prepare for the launch of our beta, because it really comes down to finding the balance of investing in people and technology.

People – Getting the right team at the right time.

While the first 2-3 hires to will not be founders, they will become my closest advisors and must be people I'm comfortable sharing my deepest fears with, people who complement my skills and help accelerate the business. Personality and temperament are key here as a true startup is a unique environment that is both demanding and ever-changing. My goal with these first few hires is to find individuals who have a complimentary mix of skills and are flexible enough to carry us through the next 18-24 months during good times and in the face of challenges.  I'm living by the motto: hire great people that are experts in their craft, offer a supportive environment where they can grow, then let them go and run and do.

Culture – Setting a vision and defining core values.

For me, starting with the why and laying out the mission and vision is important. It’s what the first few hires will latch onto and run with. There’s a “gets it” and “wants it” that has to be overwhelmingly strong. As a startup you’re very often unable to pay market rates and so you have to find what truly motivates people. Early on, you’re hiring people who absolutely believe in the vision and what you’re trying to accomplish. Once you have a few folks on board, you can begin to frame the core values and who you aspire to be to each other and your customers.

Technology – Not a bunch of overhead, just the rightoverhead.

For a SaaS business, having your infrastructure in place early keeps you from having to rip things out later on. It’s a bit of a preplanning exercise for what you will need once the growth begins. I chose to invest in some overhead early on as sometimes it’s about creating a good habit from the beginning. Whether it's for components within your application or for tools in the business, it seems there's a service out there for everything. When you’re small you’re trying to optimize how your time is spent and you don’t want to spend it where it’s not your primary technology or IP. For me, spending the time creating tools that are tertiary and chasing down problems in those things wasn’t what I wanted to do.

There’s so much to think about as you’re starting a businessthat at times it seems overwhelming. I’ve started committed todoing things right from the beginning, whether it’s people, process, ortechnology. The early days lay the foundation for growth and success and I’mcertainly looking forward to both.

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