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When and how to build the C-level team in your startup

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This group of people will determine your company’s values and how they will later trickle down to your employees and customers. When considering the profiles to take on these roles keep in mind that it’s quite easy to find the technical skills, but finding the right fit culturally is not that simple.

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When and how to build the C-level team in your startup

  1. 1. When and how to build the C-level team in your startup By Jason Hanold Image courtesy of Dennis Skley at Flickr.com
  2. 2. There is a lot of debate around when the right time is to take on board c-level executives in your startup, or even you should at all. As an entrepreneur, at the beginning you will be wearing so many hats you may lose track sometimes from role to role. This seems like the best way to run your business until one day you realize you do need help. What you have to consider though is how you take on people in your startup? What titles will they have? What relevance will that title have within the company? And maybe even more importantly, how will these new roles be viewed by potential stakeholders and future employees? All of these questions are valid, and if you’ve reached the point they start burning in the back of your mind until you start creating profiles while you sleep, then it’s time to start building your management team. For some this time comes around a year after the startup has been created, and for others it may take a little longer, despite what other companies do with regards to setting up their management team at the end of the day you are the one that has to weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision.
  3. 3. Once you’ve made up your mind, start your task by deciding what responsibilities you need to delegate, and how these responsibilities could be grouped together under specific roles. Now, you have a lot to consider at this stage, because this is where you will set yourself apart. Your company’s unique corporate culture will be reflected not only in you, but in the first leaders that you hire. This group of people will determine your company’s values and how they will later trickle down to your employees and customers. When considering the profiles to take on these roles keep in mind that it’s quite easy to find the technical skills, but finding the right fit culturally is not that simple. The alignment will ensure that your company has a prosperous future. Image courtesy of Markus Spiske at Flickr.com
  4. 4. Type of roles to fill Chief Executive Officer (CEO) The CEO is the one who calls the shots in terms of the selection of the senior team that surrounds him and devises the strategic plans that the company follows. Their vision of the company must focus on the overall picture, not the details. Sometimes you as the startup entrepreneur are not the person for this role. Chief Operating Officer (COO) The details behind every action and decision made in the company should be determined by the COO. He’s the one to implement procedures that can effectively allow the company to achieve their goals by keeping his eye on the details, not the big picture.
  5. 5. Type of roles to fill President You would have to determine if you require this role for your company, although many have argued that there is no clear description on this role and his or her responsibilities, others do see the importance of having one in their line up. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) This role is all about managing money for your company and someone who can cover all the bases in all financially related topics. Budgeting, forecasting, cash flow and in general ensuring that other decisions in the company are financially sound requires someone who loves numbers and can bring innovative financial strategies to the company.
  6. 6. Type of roles to fill Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Marketing has become lately a crucial element of a company due to companies that are dragged in marketing battles. This is why this increasingly important role will often take on responsibilities like sales strategies. Be sure to choose someone who craves your product or service. The more they are invested in the product or service, the more they will bring to the table. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) This role will come in handy if technology is an essential part of your core business. If this is the case you will need someone who can monitor devices, prevent attacks and create strategic alternatives for real problems. This last characteristic is not easy to find in this field, so be sure to evaluate during the selection process his ability to strategize, which is completely necessary for the C-level IT expert.
  7. 7. Finding who to fill them Finding just the right fit can be daunting. The success behind it is firstly deciding which roles you truly needed in your startup, not hiring just because it’ll look good with in terms of image, but that the role actually has a relevant and critical role in the startup. Once you know the roles you want to fill you have to begin analyzing if the person shares your vision, do they know their stuff and is flexible when it comes to learning from mistakes. As a startup, sometimes we are tempted to select friends or family members, and that’s fine as long as you feel they truly are the best person you could have in that role. Lastly, surround yourself by intelligent and skillful C-level managers that will help you take your startup to where you want it to be. All of these things bring us back to the main point, which is preferably wait it out and choose your team wisely, so hopefully there is little or no change in these roles at least for a good amount of time.

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