We all love the story of the rapidly growing superstar startup with its rock star team. And while everyone thrives on the positive stories of key hires, we rarely hear tales of the wrong hires and its associated costs. The right mix of people is crucial to the success of a startup, especially during the early stages. So why make the decision quickly when you don’t have to?
Whether your team is big or small, here are 4 reasons to consider bringing in consultants as you grow your company.
1. You get extra people power when you need it.
Most of the time, startups don’t yet need a full-time designer, marketing lead or community manager. To avoid sinking precious resources into these roles, you can instead bring consultants and contractors into play. These positions, while may feel like they validate your company’s growth, can wait.
When it comes to all those anticipated (and unanticipated) tasks that pop up around important events or major product launches, bringing in consultants mean you have short term bursts of work necessary to get through crunch time or inflection points for your company.
Ken Johnson, CEO & Co-founder of Manpacks, a subscription service for men’s daily products, states, “We've learned that contractors are a great way to combat a fast-growing task list when you need things done in a hurry. Hiring fast can result in costly hiring mistakes, and also distract you from the areas of your startup that require focus. Contracted talent can be hired quickly to fill a very specific need for specific tasks, with minimal risk if things don't work out.”
2. You can date before you marry.
Consultants are often open to full time work, so if you find it’s a great fit, you can offer them an early role on the team. Foodspotting, the company behind the mobile dish review community, typically engages its candidates as contractors first. This is a neat way to test out working relationships before fully committing. In the meantime, you are getting a cost efficient way of discovering the exact skill-set your team needs in that role.
Keith Robinson, designer with cloud application platform, Heroku, advises, “The worst thing you can do is bring someone in full time without a solid idea of what they'll actually be doing. If that's the case, test the waters, bring in consultants or contractors and, if they prove to be a good fit, pull them on full time… They'll help you figure it out.”
3. You can count on two degrees of separation.
Passion gets you far but expertise and a deep network can be invaluable, especially when you are trying to build relationships for product partnerships, with the press or with leaders in your market. Consultants boasting years of experience will likely also maintain years of relationships you can leverage for your company’s benefit.
You can also rely on the expertise and network of your consultants to help pinpoint and reach potential hires in that area, particularly when it comes to passive candidates. With my company Signal Camp, not only did we act as the interim marketing and community team at Seesaw, a startup building a mobile decision-making app, we assisted them in fine tuning their hiring requirements, introduced them to potential candidates and helped them through the interview process.
4. You can keep your equity intact.
If we’ve learned one thing from The Social Network, it’s that equity matters. Maintaining as much ownership of your company as possible can provide more options and opportunities for you down the line. Consultants generally don’t take equity, which means your stake remains larger, longer.