How should we go about recruiting an MD?

I’ve been running an online alternative music clothing and accessories company for two years. The company is growing rapidly – turnover this year will be £1.2m – but erratically. I need to bring in an MD to provide some structure and to ensure we’re realising our potential, while I concentrate on new product ranges. I realise it’s a crucial appointment, what do I need to consider?

A. Michael Smith of Firebox writes:

My advice would be to take your time trying to find the right person; it’s too important a decision to rush into. It would be far better for you to continue as you are for the next year than bring the wrong person on board. Steve Jobs faced a similar situation at Apple in the 1980s and was eventually ousted by the CEO that he had recruited.

I would avoid trying to recruit purely on the basis of management and business skills. You’ll be working incredibly closely with this person and they should share your passion for the products and industry you operate in. It doesn’t matter how many MBAs the candidate has, if they can’t get under the skin of your sector then they’ll be next to useless.

It won’t be easy to recruit for this role but one smart way to start would be through your own contacts and business network. Perhaps one of your customers has been thinking about setting up their own business and this could be a perfect opportunity for them?

It sounds like your company is at an early stage of its development with a lot of potential. The right candidate should be enthused by this opportunity and may even suggest investing some of their own money. This will demonstrate their commitment and turn the relationship into more of a partnership, which will give the business the best chance of success.


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