1. The early hires have huge impact.
Just do the math. Think about how much more a single person affects company culture in a company of one, two, three, or four people, compared to a company of several hundred.
2. Building by shedding jobs
We’ve used the shedding jobs strategy as we built from a one-person-do-everything business to a software company with 45 employees. The first job I shed and our first hire was sales, because that’s not my favorite thing, but I was doing it. Next I shed the tech support job and hired someone to do that for us, for the same reason. Then bookkeeping. Followed by programming, and then marketing. What I was getting, most of the time, was my own time back.
3. Create your own workplace environment.
As the company grew, I wanted a workplace atmosphere that felt good to me when I would arrive in the office in the morning. Happy people, sharing the vision, working together.
4. Occasionally you fit the job to the person, instead of vice-versa.
Sometimes you run into somebody who you want involved in the company, and you adjust the job description. For example, one person was hired to do tech support, but ended up as documentation manager.
5. Projects make great introductions.
Sometimes jobs can begin with consulting contracts for specific projects that you need done. That makes a comfortable introduction. Like having a cup of coffee together before you decide to take a weekend trip.