Should You Hire Fast or Slow?

June 2, 2014

8:56 am

This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!

As an early-stage startup, how quickly should you be hiring?

The traditional advice is to hire slow, fire fast. The logic is that you want to take your time finding those true A Players (not rushing and accidentally hiring B or C players) and cut your losses quickly if it doesn’t work out.

But Mark Suster, a general partner at Upfront Ventures, doesn’t agree. In an article called “Startup Mantra: Hire Fast, Fire Fast,” he recommends hiring fast because you never know if someone’s going to be a good worker, a culture fit, or motivated enough beforehand, even if you hire slowly.

Danny Boice, the CTO of DC-based conference call startup Speek, agrees: if you don’t hire fast, your startup will die. Ah yes, there is that – survival. Remember with startups that it’s a bit of a marathon – but if your runway runs out, your company is dead. So making quick, decisive decisions is key.

In the end, maybe different roles call for different hiring techniques. When assembling the technology team, you need to hire a little more slowly. BrightTag CTO Eric Lunt warns, “If you make a bad tech hire [whom] you have to fire later, they leave a legacy of bad code that you will have to go clean up later.” Not only can bad hires waste time, some can also leave behind more work for the rest of the team.

So ask yourself: if I make a bad hire here, what do I risk losing? If I don’t hire anyone, will we be out of business? The conflict between accuracy and speed is something you’ll have to get used to as a founder.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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