Most founders are faced with a problem when hiring their first employees. You know the skill sets you are looking for, but you also know what it costs to hire a strong person for the role. Yes, you can try throwing a lowball salary with bonus upside and equity at your preferred hire. However, that rarely works to get you the person that can drive the business forward fast.

My advice is to save up your money and hire less people, but never hire the less qualified person you can afford. Hire the person you need or hire no one. Bringing in “C” level talent to fill critical seats in sales, marketing, or tech dev roles is sure to crash your young business. You will never get the production or effort you need from the wrong kind of employee, and all you will do is get yourself frustrated. You’ll constantly find that wrong person won’t work as effectively or as hard as you need, and you’ll just have to replace them soon anyways.

I did the wrong thing twice in my career. At a FinTech lender I ran called Aquina Health, we hired three people to lead sales before I threw in the towel, consolidated our resources, and paid up to hire a rock star. Our new sales leader showed up the first day with a three-ring binder as thick as an old Webster’s dictionary. We finally had the right sales leader.

And I hit this problem again at a high school sports startup I ran. We didn’t have the budget for a top-end sales hire, and in hindsight I would have been better off not hiring anyone until I could afford the right person. That’s today’s Founder Coach advice — hire only great people in the early days or leave the positions open until you can afford the kind of talent you need.

Thanks for reading today’s post, I hope you learned something that you can apply to your own business.

Advice for startup founders on strategy, growth, and capital raising. #FounderCoach