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How to Hire the First 8 Employees for your Startup

Building a strong core is more than just a fitness cliché, it's an essential part of creating a successful business and culture from the ground up.

How to Hire the First 8 Employees for Your Startup

Looking to hire for your startup is a bold frontier, and, as The Muse likes to put it 

“Someone has chosen to turn down other opportunities to help make your idea happen. And in many cases, he or she is embracing a significant amount of risk to do so.” 

That makes hiring for your startup a scary thing, too. Someone is relying on you and your business for their livelihood. It’s crucial, then, to make sure that you’re bringing in the right people the right way. Do you know how to hire the first eight people for your startup? If the answer is no, you’ve come to the right place.  

Which roles should you look for first?  

A startup has a limited budget. So, when it comes to bringing in new hires, you need to ensure you hire for the roles that are absolutely crucial for your business. Here are the top eight roles startups tend to hire for. Besides knowing which roles to look for, you’re going to want to know who you’re looking for. Once you’ve narrowed down your roles, build a candidate persona.  This will help you hone in on exactly who and what you need. Depending on where you’re at, you may only need a couple of them. It’s great to discuss with an external resource to get an idea of where your business might thrive by adding a new hire — for that, reach out to us at Pivot + Edge. 

  1. Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operations Officer 

Likely, these two roles are already filled by the company founders. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) runs the show and drives the business towards its overall vision and guides the culture. The Chief Operations Officer (COO) performs those day-to-day operations that keep the business running.  

      2. Product Manager 

This role is key to helping founders and higher levels finally take a step away from working in the business to working on the business. The product manager will be in charge of the ins and outs of your entire product. They’ll also work closely alongside the marketing and engineering teams. The catch? Bringing in a product manager can often be slightly difficult for the founders, as their startup and startup product is likely their baby. The step back to focus on other things can be tough but necessary.  

      3. Chief Technology Officer 

The Chief Technology Officer is key — even if you aren’t a tech startup. CTOs are the people who hire and manage teams of developers and ensure they complete projects effectively. A CTO also equips their team with the tech stack they need to build out the company product and guide the overall technical vision. The foundation of a successful startup is the quality of the people on a team, especially on the technical side. A CTO is essential in the hiring process to implement things like skills testing so that fakers can’t squeeze through. 

      4. Chief Marketing Officer 

Once you have a product, you need people to see it and want it. That’s where your Chief Marketing Officer comes in. With a startup, the CMO ideally has to take on a little bit more than in a traditional business. Your ideal CMO will be able to write copy, have a firm grasp on social media marketing, and have the skills needed to get your product out to a wide audience.  

      5. Sales Manager  

Perfecting your sales pipeline will be crucial as you move forward with putting your product on the market, and the Sales Manager will be in charge of making that happen. Your startup will survive by generating leads and converting them into sales.

      6. Chief Financial Officer 

While this role may not be at the very top of your hiring list, having someone other than the founders or CEO do tasks like payroll and accounting can free up a lot of space for other tasks. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 50% of small businesses have a CFO.

      7. Business Development Manager 

If your startup seems like it’s already come to a standstill, you may need a business development manager. They’ll find ways to propel your startup even further from both a sales and marketing standpoint. They’ll be able to boost your company’s strategy and give you a competitive edge in the market.

      8. Account Manager

Once you have customers and clients with ongoing relationships, you’ll need someone to manage those. You need to maintain positive relationships with your customers and clients, no matter how amazing your product is.  


Once you’ve narrowed down who you need to hire, it’s time to start thinking of how you’re going to hire them. Evaluate your hiring strategy, bring on outside help if you need to (*cough* Pivot + Edge can be a great resource), and commit to the process; hiring can be expensive and time-consuming if not done properly.

Interview effectively. 

Interviewing for any business is important, never mind a startup with a budget in mind. In order to interview as best as possible, you need to create a system that weeds out those candidates who just don’t quite fit. After all, 23% of failed startups mentioned team issues as a cause in a study done by Entrepreneur. Even more so, it’s crucial that you’re looking for the right things in your potential new teammates. Ideal candidates must have more than just hard skills. They need that little something that can’t be taught like passion, drive, and the gumption it takes to get a startup off the ground.  

If you’re looking for our hot tips on how startups can interview candidates better, look no further than this blog post.  

Build a strong employer brand. 

How do you attract the right people, you ask? By developing and using your employer branding. The market is powered by candidates right now, so your startup needs to look as appealing and be as competitive as possible. Your employer branding will let potential hires know exactly what you’re about and how much they’ll love working for you. It puts your company culture at the forefront, layout expectations and job roles from the get-go, and help minimize the risk of hiring a mistake. In short, using your employer branding helps you find the right candidates for your startup. 

Onboarding and career growth.  

Finally, a ton of success lies in how you onboard your new hire. We’re all about first impressions, right? Make their first day a good one. You also want to consider the talent pipeline. Where does this employee fit in and where can you see them growing into and developing within the business? Part of bringing in the right kind of talent that will grow as your business does involves hiring for diversity and inclusivity. When you do this, your overall net talent increases and your business will become a better place to work. To perfect your onboarding program, find everything you need on our blog 



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