Your minimum viable product is built to everyone's satisfaction. Customers are finding you every day as your user base climbs ever so nicely. With these two ingredients in hand, you raise a little money that enables you to add to the founding team.

It's now time to make your first set of hires. And all you hear about is make sure you hire to fit your culture. Now is the time to set the cultural foundation of your company. These 3 truths must be asked and answered to effectively meet your goal. The alternative can be deadly.

Establish your culture. You first question is, do I have a culture? The answer is obviously yes but is it the culture you want going forward? What are those things you are willing to live with and those items you cannot live without? Work/life balance is the first area to explore. Is the team a 12 hour day, 5.5 days a week group? If so, what happens when you find someone who has the requisite skills but also has a family that she intends on seeing every night. Establish the 3 or 4 core cultural elements you are going to hire and support. Do you like people that are humble? Aggressive? Transparent?

Build your culture evaluation process. Once you identify and agree on 3 to 4 cultural pillars, you then need to discuss how you are going to uncover the candidates' correlation to those pillars. You can't rely solely on their own words. You must search for 3rd party validation. References are a start and can prove very effective when you ask the right questions. If the candidate stays until 9pm every day when you strive for employees who have a better work/life balance you have a bad fit. Don't ask leading questions but find ways to uncover the answers you need. Social media and blogs are another treasure-trove of information. Take the time and utilize as many different paths as possible. Use the whole team in the process. Take the candidate to lunch or beers late in the day. Consider identifying a small project for them to work on with you for 1 or 2 weeks. Then measure to fit. This will not be a black/white grading system.

Make hiring an always-on principle. I get frustrated with hiring companies who think that recruiting is a light switch. I find that these companies hire on skillsets and not the values that drive a culture. It is imperative that you build a funnel around your core values so that you are constantly loading and evaluating future talent. If you do this from the start, you will be amazed at what you can streamline. I once hired 60 new hires in a little over 3 months without using an inside of outside recruiter. This was a team sport and we met every couple days to build our recruiting engine.

Passionate, perfectly skilled new hires are a great start, but you also need to ensure a cultural fit. Establish a model and execute as a team and before long you will have that team that executes perfectly.

Published on: Apr 2, 2015