It’s now time to build your management team. The importance of this critical step can’t be overstated. No matter how motivated and smart you are, you cannot sustain and grow a successful high-growth technology business alone. Your investors, customers, and partners know that. They will be more likely to engage with your venture if you have an experienced, competent, and credible team.
Make peace with this fact early, and focus your efforts on building a team of confident, competent, and committed people like you. Make sure that they bring the complementary skills that will assure the business has the right mix of sales, marketing, technical, financial, administrative, executive, and advisory support.
- Your People Are Part of Your Value
- Top-Level Executives
- When Do You Need Middle Management?
- When to Step Aside
It’s tempting to focus your value proposition on your technology alone. But your people are also a critical part of your new company’s value. Investors know that, and will scrutinize your management selection very closely to see if you have the quality and depth to succeed.
So, when looking at whom to bring in, think like an investor. Don’t just bring in friends and family. Find the people with the credentials, the know-how, the charisma, and the commitment for the long haul, and make it worth their while. Then, give them real control over their area and let them do their jobs.
The results will astound you. Learning to make the right hiring decisions may be the single biggest factor in determining the outcome of your business venture. When you’re out talking to potential investors, you will certainly be more likely to get serious offers and favorable terms if you can demonstrate that you know how to get veteran skilled leaders to make your enterprise viable.
So, what does each individual on the team do? Top-level executives, whether you give them the title of Chief or Vice President, should be highly seasoned individuals, preferably with prior experience starting and growing a technology business. If they haven’t worked at the executive level where they were responsible for an entire organization, they may not have the experience you need to make your business fly. They should be individuals who have the capabilities to represent and carry the organization forward in the event that you are unavailable.
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Most likely this is your role. The CEO oversees everyone else, determines strategy, hires the executive team, and has the final say in all decision-making matters. He or she must be able to step back from the day-to-day details to look at the big picture, identify trends, and navigate opportunities and challenges.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Financial management of the business is a critical function, although it is not uncommon for startups to initially outsource it to CFOs for hire. CFOs are the money people who build and maintain the financial controls that keep your business healthy. They also are critical in maintaining successful, ongoing communications with your investors and other financial backers.
- Chief Operating Officer (COO)
The COO directs all of your firm’s operational processes and systems to optimize performance across the business. He or she designs and rolls out measurement systems, monitors performance, and acts both proactively and reactively ensure a smooth-running operation.
The president’s role varies by organization. In some cases, he or she oversees human resources, finance and strategy. Sometimes, this role goes to the COO. If there’s a strategic, smart individual that you want on your team but there isn’t another logical position, consider this job as a possible solution.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
This executive must stay abreast of technology trends and make sure they’re reflected in the company’s strategy. If you run a technology company, this critical function can make or break your future.
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Most technologists would rather overlook this function, but do so at your peril. Marketing and sales strategy as fundamental to corporate strategy. The CMO owns the marketing strategy, positions your brand against competitors, creates demand and leads, forges channels to get the product to market, creates alliances, and creates all-important dialogue across media and social media channels – with prospective customers, customers, influencers, and partners.
- Chief Revenue Officer or VP of Sales
Don’t overlook this critical line position. Unlike other areas of the business, sales is the one that brings home the bacon! At the outset, the CEO and CMO together may be the salespeople for the organization, but that can’t be sustained in the long run. You will need to bring in professional sales expertise. Your marketing executive can bring leads to your door, but you need to be able to convert them into sales in order to survive and thrive!
Early in the game, you’re not likely to have middle managers. You’re running lean and mean. But if you and your other chief executives and directors are doing your jobs, you’re going to be spending all of your time talking with customers, investors, and key influencers. When you get to the point where you have four or five actual engineers, developers, sales people, or other workers building the business day-to-day operations, and they require more of your attention, it’s probably time to develop a level of middle management to oversee their efforts and keep things running smoothly.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airways and many other businesses, urges business entrepreneurs to pay attention to when it’s time to step aside and let someone else run the business. “The kind of people I look for are motivators who praise their people,” he advises. “If you put the wrong person in a company, you can destroy a company quickly. If you put the right person in at the top, it will thrive.”
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REGISTERED EVE BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS
- EVE Registered Mentor Jason Jacobs, Entrepreneur, Early Stage Business Consultant
- Richard E. Honen, Attorney, VC
- Raimondo Archibald, Mgmt Consultant, Investment Banker
- Jim Lozano, Accountant, CFO for Hire
- Robert Hayes, Accountant, Serial Entrepreneur