We recently asked you to send in small businesses questions to Henry Blodget, Editor in Chief of Business Insider and OPEN Forum expert. In today's column he answers questions on hiring and board meetings, and offers a few insider tips that every entrepreneur know. You can send your questions to Henry here.
A: Hire people you like. This seems obvious but it's rarely cited as an important hiring criteria. You don't have to like an employee for the job to be done, but it's hard to work well as a team when the players don't get along.
It's also hard to manage people you don't like. If you don't like them, it's a safe bet they don't like you. Likewise, if you don't like them, then you won't like talking to them, so you won't. You won't learn anything from them, want to promote them, review their work, and so on.
At our company, we have a "no jerks" rule. It's prevented us from hiring people who would have been good at their jobs but hard to work with.
Q: What are the pros and cons of having a board?
A: A strong board provides you with a team of smart advisers with a different business perspective. When you're consumed with running the day-to-day, you often miss the big picture. Having a board and regular board meetings force you to step back and focus on your long-term goals.
Board members with diverse views can serve as a sounding board and consulting team. They can help you spot and solve problems as they arise.
There are potential drawbacks of having a board, though. Members can become infatuated with an idea that might not be the most important task for your company to focus on. If you're the CEO, the board has the power to fire you, but they are not directly responsible for the day-to-day success of the company. That's where you need to step in and make sure your company comes first.
Q: If you started your business over, what would you do differently?
A: When we started Business Insider, we didn't have much money and my primary concern was being thrifty. As a result, we were very cautious in the beginning and grew slowly. On the other hand, if you're concerned with raising money at the beginning, you have to give up a lot of equity immediately.
Also, I would hire senior team-mates more rapidly. For the first year, I did everything -- editorial, sales, management and technology. If I hired a COO earlier, I would have been able to focus on the product and editorial.
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