Once you graduate from being a gang of cofounders to being a real company, it's time to start the most important job you'll ever do: hiring. Your company will grow only if you create the best and brightest team you can. And after you hire your team, you immediately have to think about scaling it.
Hiring isn't just your most important job—it's also your hardest.
Our board member Greg Sands once compared the phenomenon of companies growing out of the startup stage to cell development in small organisms. Amoeba or paramecia consist of one cell, and that cell has to do everything: eat, move, sense its surroundings, and respond accordingly. When the cell divides, the new cells still need to do everything—they're just attached to other cells. But as organisms grow more complex, individual cells need to specialize. And when things get really complex, you need a liver, a spleen, a stomach, and a pancreas.
By and large, startups work the same way. In the early stages, you have to hire generalists who are both willing and able to take on dozens of tasks at once. Your developers will have to speak with potential customers; your accountants will have to give advice on product direction; and the born salesman on your team will need to put the phone down a few hours a day and set up a new employee's computer.
This is the exciting, four-people-and-an-idea stage popularly associated with startups—but it doesn't last very long. For a ...