The tides of founder life are ever-changing, and the best leaders must roll with the waves and adapt along the way. From Pre-Seed to Series A and on, there are many steps and just as many hurdles involved in the stages of growth.
As you navigate this journey and raise capital to lay groundwork and scale, one of the most difficult things to handle is the human element: seeking the right team members, sizing up their potential to solve the problems you have, and building a culture that will take your company to the next level.
The critical stage of building a team beyond the initial lean group of people in the startup phase occurs as you near Series A, when investments are often used to hire more people. It’s essential to plan your next steps and have a sit-down with your current team to identify the problem you are looking to solve with the skills that the new addition(s) to your team will bring. Everyone has probably been wearing a lot of hats until this point, but your Series A will close that scrappy chapter and allow the org chart to become more formal. Define what each current member does and what the future hire will do (and not do!) within the scope of their roles. Hiring takes a complex blend of discipline, skills, rigor, and time. It’s vital to determine whether you have that capacity and what resources and networks you can tap to make the process more manageable.
To guide you with your next decisions on hiring, we’ve outlined our airCFO experts’ tips and considerations in building your Series A team.
Do you need a Product Manager or should this role stay with the CEO?
A critical step to determine at this point is building your product team and whether this role should stay within the founder’s responsibilities. After all, the Founder/CEO scoped the product first, right? But at a certain point of growth, product development grows into several sub-disciplines spanning customer acquisition, marketing, engineering, analytics, and customer success, among others. Overall, the product manager’s primary responsibility ends up with the customer. It should most often be an entirely different hat worn by a dedicated person within the growing team.
What should you look for when building the Series A team vs. Seed?
Raising your Series A funding is a critical milestone in this long journey, and it’s an exciting step to finally building your company and scaling. Take your new steps carefully by examining current problems and long-term business needs. Identify what skills and cross-functional expertise are needed to overcome these hurdles. From here, build a list of positions you need.
It’s also essential to resist the temptation to overhire and burn cash quickly. You may want specialized roles now, but are you able to keep the new hires busy year-round, or is the work you need to get done on a seasonal and project basis? In a technical employee classification regard, you might be looking for a contractor instead.
Compared with your Seedstage, completing your Series A round brings different expectations. Your company will become more formal, and the operational work needed to fulfill your business ambitions will require careful planning. You are starting to move on from your pre-profit stage and will need more hands on deck.
What are your tips for finding qualified candidates that fit the company culture?
Knowing whether or not the candidate you’re interviewing is a good fit for your company is essential, but equally important is for the candidate to know you’re a good fit for them too. Communicate your values and brand as an employer and set clear expectations in every step. In another blog post, we outlined some tips on attracting the right candidates with your job posting, which includes bringing your vibe into the job description by using descriptive, upbeat language and maybe even emojis! Overall, the most critical element is being clear about the role’s function and responsibilities, but with room to still get to know them even if they don’t 100% check all the job description boxes.
From here, create a repeatable process that works. Build clear job descriptions that communicate your values, have a structure in assessing your candidates, and build a team with a set of skills that take your business to its next growth stage.
In summary, your Series A hires are vital as they scale up your business and continue to build the team culture. Knowing what energy and traditions you want to cultivate is crucial as you bring along the folks who will develop them.
To know how to get started and establish your hiring foundation, schedule a discovery call with our airCFO team. We’d love to help!