The Marker Guide to Hiring for Your Startup

A startup can never have too many makers

Joe Procopio
Published in
10 min readJul 11, 2019


Credit: ferrantraite/Getty

One of the most common questions I get from company leaders is about who to hire and when.

It doesn’t matter if your company is two people or 20 or 200 — your next hire is always the most important hire. Filling the wrong role at the wrong time is a waste of money and potentially even a waste of talent.

But how do you know when the time is right and which skills are most critical for your success? Here’s a guide I put together, based on building dozens of companies, for all stages of a company’s growth cycle, from the first hire to the 500th.

First: Should you hire at all?

When I get asked for help on a hiring decision, nine times out of 10 it comes to me as “What role should we hire for next?” And nine times out of nine I try to gut-check whether a hire needs to be made at all.

Here’s the rule: Good hires are like bullets. You don’t want to use them until you’ve locked in on a target and you’re 100% sure you want to pull the trigger.

During the early days, a hire shouldn’t be made until the pain of missing that additional resource is twice the value of the total hire package. In other words, if it’s going to cost $100K all-in to bring on a resource, it shouldn’t be done until the company is feeling $200K worth of pain.

That’s not always an easy metric to gauge, let alone live by, so it’s more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule. Just keep in mind that the only thing worse than living without a needed resource is paying a salary plus benefits for the wrong resource.

A second factor in a growth-hiring decision — and maybe even more important than relieving pain — is grabbing opportunity. Employees are the biggest gamble a company makes, but growth just doesn’t happen without talent. So sometimes we need to hire opportunistically, rolling the dice on great talent in the hopes that the payoff will be exponential.

I’d always rather hire for opportunity over pain management, and I try my best to make the money work out.

Next: Full-time vs. contract vs. consultant



Joe Procopio
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I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at