(There is a Portuguese version)
There’s a contradiction in the startup world.
It is public domain that one of the main weapons of a startup is agility, an advantage that enables startups to surprise and left billion-dollar companies behind. It is also known that team size is directly proportional to agility.
Investors, the media, the startup community and your ego wants your startup will be to hire, each one following their reasons.
It is a trap.
The confusion starts on the definition of startup growth, apparently. Luckily, the dilemma solution is quite simple: what needs to grow is the profit, not the team size.
Having a rich and diversified skill set on your team is a blessing, but the secret is to maximize the skill set while minimizing the number of individuals within the team.
A new team member increases the communication lines, spends their time and the team’s time until getting in the flow and understanding the way the team thinks and work together, and represents a clear risk to your culture, when you consider personality traits, past experiences and the maturity and execution of your hiring process.
One of the main headaches we had at Husky was when we hired another “startup” for a service. The founders of that startup are reference on what they do, but the service of the startup was crappy because of the size of their team (100+ people). The people executing the service were just too far away from the founders.
Do not hire.
Hiring is the easy, expensive and lazy solution. It is the solution from the 80’s.
It doesn’t require reflexion or creativity. Do not consider abstract or human factors. One just need a spreadsheet that matches. Increases your burn rate, with great potential to downgrade the average quality of your team.
Is it really necessary to hire? Don’t you have processes that can be optimized? Isn’t there any activities that can be eliminated? Can’t you find a SaaS in the market that will alleviate the workload of your team? Can’t your software be optimized? Can’t your time (that includes you) learn the skill you are missing?
Outsource the work here and there, when it is not critical.
“Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later” (Brook’s Law, by Fred Brooks, on The Mythical Man-Month book)
The Last Resort
Will you hire? Check if the situation has the two attributes below. The two of them, not one of them.
- The skill is critical, and there is no way to learn: the result would be pretty bad, or it would take years to get there.
- The person you will hire will change the world! The benefit of the hiring would be a landmark on your startup: before and after.
Prefer hands-on fast-learner generalists, instead of specialists. Continuously hone the efficiency of the team, starting from the founders. Efficiency is different than hard work (which usually translates to working hours). Work with the future team member before hiring. Pay him/her as a freelancer, then make it a part-time. Be modern at your hiring and management process. Grow up.
And remember: you don’t need the number of people you think you need.