From the May 2000 issue of Startups

Hiring is always risky. Will the person get along with other employees? Will they benefit the company? When starting your own business, the risks are even greater, because it¹s your first employees who make or break the business. Sometimes it's best to take risks

Name/Age: Phil Shawe, 30
Company/Description: TransPerfect Translations Inc., a New York City translation firm
First Hire: "Our first hire was Matthew Rodano, a young kid out of school with great talent. Although Matthew was doing a great job, his efforts didn't immediately generate business. We were forced to lay him off, but we kept good relations with him and explained that it was simply due to economic realities. The marketing effort he put forth in those first months started to pay off shortly after he left. As soon as we could afford to hire him back, we tracked him down and were able to re-establish our relationship. It's five years later, and he continues to close large deals every week."
Two Things I Learned: "First, sales is a long process. A sales executive who's doing the right things but struggling in the short-term is likely to prosper later. Second, our attempts to part ways as politely as possible paid off in a win-win situation later on."

Name/Age: Richard Allred, 36
Company/Description: Toes on the Nose Corp., a Costa Mesa, California, surf apparel company
First Hire: "We didn't have a lot of money with the first person we hired--we were looking for a part-timer. We hired a woman who was six months pregnant. People have reservations about hiring a pregnant woman, but it worked out perfectly. She worked until she went on maternity leave and came back after giving birth. She's now vice president."

Name/Age: Alexis Abramson, 32
Company/Description: Mature Mart Inc., an Atlanta-based distributor of products for senior citizens
First Hire: "My first hire was my 84-year-old grandmother--she was the company receptionist. I hired her because I thought she would understand the market. She not only used and knew the products well, but she could also help end-users or caregivers choose the appropriate product for a particular need. [From this experience,] I learned I could work cohesively with family members."

Contact Sources

Mature Mart Inc., (800) 720-6278, www.maturemart.com
Toes on the Nose Corp., (714) 513-1500, www.toesonthenose.com
TransPerfect Translations Inc., (212) 689-5555, www.transperfect.com