A company I became acquainted with in Dallas, Texas was just starting out. As there were only two entrepreneurs involved, they needed help. They posted online and were immediately hit with 50,000 resumes (one of the few benefits of the recession). One resume in particular caught their attention. A sales guy who was in their specific field who had a crap ton of experience in selling stuff just like they had. Sure he had 580 jobs in the last four years, but who cares, because as he said all over his resume, he was the number one sales guy in all 580 of them. When they met him, he talked a smooth game; in fact his nickname became Mr. Smooth. He knew their industry inside and out. He had sold $40 bagillion dollars worth of franchises. He was revered as a god by everyone who ever worked with him. There was one small problem; none of it could be verified.
You see his last employer withheld his paycheck because he called them unethical. Another company, had closed its doors even though he sold $6 buttacagillion worth of franchises. One company was in a big legal tangle with another corporation so wasn’t allowed to talk about him or the company. One after another there was a semi-plausible reason that each was not available to talk. Damn, though the guy was smooth. In the immortal words of Mel Brooks via Slim Pickens, “he used his mouth prettier than a $3 whore.” Our heroes in Dallas jumped at the opportunity to have such a high level talent on the team; oops.
Lawsuits, $100’s of thousands in embezzlement (bought his girlfriend a saddle on the company dime, cause nobody would notice that expense report.) and innumerable disgruntled customers later the boys from Dallas realize they hooked their cart to a really bad horse. It’s years later and they are still paying for their misstep.
As entrepreneurs, when you are starting out, you don’t need a lot of staff. However, every staff member becomes a huge part of the company. Spend the time, spend the money and do a background check. If they say they are a CFO, talk with someone who they have put a budget together for. If no one will talk to you about them; listen, you are hearing all you need to hear.