You’ve likely heard the expression “hire slow, fire fast.” Too many entrepreneurs learn this lesson the hard way, myself included. But today, I don’t want to talk about firing. I want to talk about hiring slowly, and how it worked for me. I hope my experience will help you develop relationships that form over time and build an incredible foundation for your company.
I met my current partner, Kathi Toll, in mid-2012. After a three-hour conversation over drinks, I went home and told me husband I “found my co-founder.” I wanted to sell everything I owned to bring Kathi into my company. I didn’t. Instead, I kept talking. As Kathi traveled weekly for a consulting position, we found ourselves spending nearly every Friday night when she returned to Chicago talking about business, brainstorming growth opportunities, scaling, funding and everything in between. Even then, we didn’t jump too quickly into a partnership. It took six months before Kathi came to work for Career Girl Network full-time, and since then, we’ve forged a phenomenal working relationship.
I’ve heard countless stories about co-founders splitting up, each other to court and losing both money and friendships. I put at the forefront of our discussions my respect for Kathi’s friendship and our business relationship, and intentionally moved slowly. Furthermore, I should note that in months of discussions, Kathi never pushed me to hire her, never asked for equity and always put the health of my business first. I learned to trust her slowly, and it paid off in the long run. Far too often, entrepreneurs talk of pushy co-founders wanting too much equity too soon rather than a person who is truly passionate about a joint venture and thereby joint success. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” If someone is pushing you to make choices you’re not comfortable with, no amount of excitement about that individual’s skill set or connections should move you to bring them on as a partner.
Hiring slowly is a best practice in our industry, but with a city full of excitable and overworked entrepreneurs, it’s difficult to follow. I hope my first-hand experience will drive other entrepreneurs to focus on fit and have patience with any hire, from your receptionist to your CEO.
Marcy Twete is the founder/CEO of Career Girl Network and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works," to be released in summer 2013.