Tom Kulzer‘s advice for growing startups? Fire faster.
The CEO of Chalfont-based email marketing comany AWeber said he dragged his feet when it came to making his first “fire.”
“I knew pretty early it wasn’t the right fit,” Kulzer said, “but I was scared.”
Kulzer, who leads a staff of about 115, spoke on a panel about how scaling affects company culture at this year’s Philly Startup Leaders conference Founder Factory.
The panel, moderated by Chuck Sacco of the newly-acquired Movitas, also featured PeopleLinx cofounder Patrick Baynes, former LiftDNA CEO Vadim Telyatnikov, ClubOS founder Adam Stokar and Teamable.me cofounder Laura Bilazarian, a New York City entrepreneur who was picked from the crowd as an addition to the panel. Sacco asked, first, for an entrepreneur from an early-stage company, but then followed up with: “Any women in the audience?” Conceivably, in hopes of diversifying an all-male speaker lineup.
- If I didn’t learn something from a prospective employee during her interview, then she’s not the right fit, Kulzer said.
- Don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Telyatnikov said he had to double his team of more than 25 in three to four months and found that he was making poor hires just to fill the office.
- Set expectations for contractors the beginning. When PeopleLinx was starting out, Baynes hired a handful of contractors. He wasn’t clear up front that their positions might get cut, so some of them got very involved with the company, he said. “We had to break a lot of hearts,” Baynes said.
- If you can’t write a job description for a specific position, then you don’t need to make that hire, Kulzer said.
- If you’re recruiting, bring those prospective staffers to company happy hours, said Baynes, who has also taken to having PeopleLinx happy hours, where the company gets beers with “friends of PeopleLinx.” “I realized that having a community around your business is something you can do,” Baynes said.