I need to know when to hire certain postions for my startup


I know the answer to this question varies greatly depending on the business etc. But I want to know if anyone knows of any information available that explains x-users = x-customer support reps etc. for postions in a startup.


asked Jul 20 '11 at 12:01
David Borish
11 points

1 Answer


@David, sorry your going to have to give away a bit more info.

  • What is the startup producing?
  • Is is consumer or B2B or something else?
  • Is it mission critical or a nice to have?
  • Will it be utilised all day every day or once a week?
  • Will the users be making it a core part of doing their job?
  • Will you be provding training courses or is it much eaiser to pickup and run with?
  • Does it integate with custom hardware?

There are probably more questions but basically I'm trying to gauge the following:

  1. How involved are the customers? If they use it every day the support profile is going to be different to once a week. One end of the scale is basic helpdesk of "where is the ANY key" and up the other is going to be "but I did press the button, I'm sure I did, why isn't the report correct?" ... at this end of the scale you need support staff who know the domain and the software very well so they can talk to the user in their language and guide them through the software (usually to discover the user did something strange or unintended).
  2. How complex is the system? Easier it is the less support your going to have. If there is a lot of functionality or everything has to line up before a specific thing occurs you will have a huge amount of calls becuase there will always be someone who forgets that one thing ... in this case you need patient support staff or a lot of vodka.
  3. How important is it to the users? If it is a primary part of running their business then your going to need a solid support staff that can respond quickly. This is more the technical support, developers who wrote the software is the best option here ... when they have to support it, they write it very differently :)
  4. If it is complex like a management system or similar then your going to need to provide training. For us this is a duel role training/support person.

To give you a feel:

One business of ours sells software to the newsprint industry, the software runs a key part of the operations, so the worst case of our software failing is they don't put a newspaper out ... which can be worth lots ... we have 24/7 support, dial in access to all clients sites and we spend a week training the users how to use the software.

We have around 80 clients with approx 3000 seats. The software is 8 years old and stable in its 4th major version ... this is supported by 2 people for user support and we have 3 developers who are oncall and systems automatically monitoring for errors and alterting us, normally before any users realise something has gone wrong.

Another business we have a website for health and fitness, it has a lot more end users but it only needs 1 person part time at the moment because the software is very easy and the trainers in the field have been trained to use the system ... we have the same monitoring for errors but we don't need the support staff full time.

answered Jul 20 '11 at 14:54
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • Robin, just to clarify, I am not asking only about customer service reps, I am looking to see if there are any formulas to know when to hire for all positions. I found an answer to a questions similar to mine and they said to use this. Answer this question for potential investors: "How much money do I need to get to [impressive number] of [users/sales] per year?" Then add 33% – David Borish 12 years ago

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