Jeremy ChenJeremy Chen from Good ThingsThe early stages of running a small business may see you flying solo and juggling several roles and responsibilities. Today you might be generating leads, tomorrow you’ll be budgeting funds and talking to investors.

It’s important to be resourceful and accomplish much of the groundwork yourself, but sooner or later, expansion is critical - and this means hiring people to fill various roles within your company. A small business needs a core set of first hires, with plans for scaling the company with additional hires down the road. In this article, we are going to cover the roles a small business should hire first. 

These are typically the two biggest positions in a company. The CEO (Chief executive officer) focuses on the big picture of the company’s vision, culture, and direction, whereas the COO (Chief operations officer) focuses on the daily business operations and ensuring the ship is sailing smoothly.

It’s recommended that you always assume the CEO responsibilities of your business, and you can assign COO to a co-founder if you have one, or hire from the outside.

CMO and community manager
The CMO (chief marketing officer) should also be able to fulfill the responsibilities of a community manager, so that you’re basically hiring two positions in one person. This person will focus on customer relations as well as marketing, so it’s important to hire someone who has great promotional and marketing skills. Ideally, this person should be able to write copy, plan advertisement campaigns, handle social media accounts, design collateral (branding), and even better if they can also do a bit of website development.

The CMO should be able to work with the product manager for developing strategies on product development based on customer feedback. Your CMO would, for example, be responsible for working with promotional product companies like Good Things, to plan promotional products that best represent your brand and resonate with your target audience.

Product manager
For product strategy, vision, and development, your go-to person will be a product manager. Their role typically consists of working with the marketing team to create and market your products. It may be difficult to hire a product manager, simply because as the business founder, you are heavily invested into your own product and service. Thus, you may find it difficult to find a product manager that you feel adequately shares your vision.

However, when you do bring on a product manager, it can force you to change your perspective and accept new ideas that will be beneficial to your business.

Sales manager
Your sales manager will focus on generating leads, and this is crucial to the early stages of your business. Startups and small businesses that generate early sales will typically last longer. A skilled sales manager won’t require any training, and they’ll be effective at generating leads and closing deals. It’s crucial to get the right person for the job, and when you hire an excellent sales manager, the money they bring back into your business can be used for expansion and hiring more people.

Payroll specialist
As you begin hiring more people, it would be wise to hire a payroll specialist with accounting experience. Especially if your business is online and you are hiring remote workers, you may need to deal with things like VAT invoices, and so you would need a payroll specialist with experience in remote teams, and knowledge of rules and regulations in various regions.

A payroll specialist may also have additional responsibilities, depending on your business. For example, let’s say you operate a writing agency - your payroll specialist would perhaps verify completed work, and calculate the amount a writer on your team is owed (because writers are typically paid based on a fixed word count, but there can be variables).

Chief technology officer (CTO)
Your CTO should also be familiar with engineering, so perhaps they can fulfill the role of VP of engineering, another two-in-one job position. A CTO is especially important for tech startups, as they specialize in technology. They will consider everything from the integration and management of various systems, hardware and software, mobile technology, and security.
Basically, the CTO will implement the company's technology strategy, while also managing the IT side of things, such as ensuring website safety, securing your company’s crucial data, analyzing markets, and more. Here is a helpful article on all the things a CTO is responsible for, as it can be a fairly lengthy list of responsibilities.

You might also want to check out this excellent guide to pricing your services on, as it covers topics especially important to business consultations.