Is a startup the best place to train someone?

She came in for the interview and was very impressive. Great academic credentials, worked for a major consulting company, and had lived in Africa. I was impressed by her confidence and she explained her ideas clearly. As we talked I asked her about how she would deal with certain practical situations. I was less impressed by her answers. I asked about the most important experiences in her career. Again I was concerned as all I heard was stories about presentations to clients.

Should I hire someone who has knowledge but very little experience? Is a start up the best place to train someone?

I fired Alan after he was rude to a customer

This was the third time Alan had been rude to a customer. I spoke to him but he ignored me and didn’t listen to what I had to tell him.

This time the customer wrote to me and told me what had happened and said this was the last time he would do business with us. He bought 3.4% of everything we sold, so I went to see him myself and said I would handle his account. He demanded we fire Alan. I was so mad that when I got back to the office, I called Alan into my office and fired him. I refused to write a reference and just paid him until the end of the month.

Everyone in the office was surprised by my reaction but no one said anything.

I alienated my team by paying a newcomer a much higher salary

I am the CEO and founder of a business with a startup team of four. We were working well together but we needed more help, especially with the financials. We had our first round of financing and we were trying to grow the business. Everyone did whatever was necessary to get things done and we had no conflicts, which was nice.

Someone recommended a person with an MBA from the local university who had spent some time in Europe. We met for lunch and got along quite well. He was eager to work for us. He wanted more money than everyone else was making, but he said this was the going rate for finance people. I really needed help, so I offered him the job.

When I went back and told the team about him and how excited I was, they were all upset that they did not have the opportunity to meet him before a decision was made. I told them it was my decision since it was my company. One teammate asked about the salary package and when I told them, they were incredibly upset; why did I value this new person more than them? They had sacrificed and worked hard and did not deserve this. I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I apologized, but the damage was done and the positive team culture and spirit never recovered.

Hiring quickly vs hiring right

I was building my team and had been interviewing quite a few people. I was disappointed in the quality of the first applicants, but finally someone with a great CV and experience with several startups applied. He was impressive but I realized from our conversation the he did not listen and was constantly telling me how I should run the business. I found this annoying but was still very impressed by his CV and experience.

I asked about the other startups and why he had left; there were three in five years. He had a plausible story for each. Mostly they did not listen to him, he got frustrated and bored, and he left. In every case, he was right and they were wrong. I found this disturbing, but he had the best CV of anyone and I was desperate for good people.

I hired him but did not offer him any stock incentives for 12 months. From the first day he came to work, he began telling everyone what they were doing wrong and what to do. The team rejected him and he resigned after nine months. I wish I had taken more time to find the right person instead of wasting the time and salary on him.