How to spend it — part 3

Hiring the First Employees

It’s not that simple

Uwe Weinreich
10 min readMay 15


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

There were times when we had enough money, and the biggest challenge was finding the right people to hire. But that’s a later phase. Let’s talk about the first phase, when you can barely do all the work and funds are not sufficient to hire enough people and pay adequate salaries.

Does this situation sound familiar? It does to me. I suppose it is quite normal to go through such situations in the beginning. I’ve been through it many times, and here’s what I’ve learned.

Masses of work cry out for helping hands — or better not?

It sounds like a fair equation. The number of tasks divided by what one person can do equals the number of people needed. Unfortunately, this equation never adds up.

Let’s imagine a young startup. The founders know exactly what they need to do. Even in a team, only a limited amount of coordination is required. Days are filled with work, and the team takes it one step at a time. It could go faster, and the work could get done better if there were more people, couldn’t it?

Enter Milena, the first employee. A smart and eager co-worker. Although she is highly talented, she has only a rough idea of what she is supposed to do here. What are the founders experiencing now? In addition to the workload they already have, there is a new task: onboarding Milena. She learns quickly, and within a few days she knows what to do and is good at it. The founder’s onboarding task diminishes.

Now they can sit back a bit and return to their daily work, which is at least somewhat minimized, right? Wrong. The workload doesn’t feel any less than before. Yes, some tasks have passed to Milena, but new routines have emerged: Coordination and meetings.

It’s a typical story. There will never be a shortage of work. On the contrary, work has a tendency to expand until it eats up every available minute.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that we stop hiring people. I just want to point out…



Uwe Weinreich

Uwe works as coach, author and consultant focusing on agile innovation and digital transformation. What he does is simple: he solves problems.