How to get C-level executives in a strat-up

If you want to earn a couple of million from an amazingly great idea, the current century is the best time to do it.

This is like living a dream. You build a team of enthusiasts, nourish your idea, and rush to the top of the Forbes ratings. If only things were that simple.

Often, you hear about the importance of the team and its members. Many will tell you that it’s impossible to reach your goal without a cohesive loyal team who support your idea and back you up when it matters.

Undeniably, having a great team is a must for a modern business, but does a young start-up really need all those business specialists wearing white collars and appearing only in sharp suits?

This is a tough question. Different situations and business schemes require varying sets of skills and talents. Sometimes, you simply need expert managers and marketers. Sometimes, an annoying CIO will become a burden.

Are these suited all-around specialists a necessity for a start-up?

C-level executives in 1999

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A couple of decades ago, having a bunch of managers for your projects was not necessarily a good idea. Many successful entrepreneurs back then managed to build their businesses without marketing expertise or managing IT processes. In the beginning of the 21st century, there was still enough room for single developers, enthusiastic teams, and amateurs with great ideas. Has anything changed since then?

The biggest thing that happened is progress. Most contemporary startups need to be scalable and cover a wider array of services compared with their counter-parts from the past. While some entrepreneurs manage to perform in multiple positions simultaneously, it is still much more efficient to have separate dedicated specialists running separate business processes. This is a crucial requirement simply due to how diverse a typical startup looks nowadays.

Ten years ago, building a successful business was a much easier task than today. It was not easier in terms of competition—it was easier in terms of complexity. To build a successfully operating business model in the past, you needed to form a team of capable professionals and technicians. The internet was a much smaller place, the competition in terms of online marketing was softer, and administrative expenses could be handled with a relative ease. Today, many things have changed…

C-level executives in 2016

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 A successful modern business operates on a completely different level compared with a couple of years ago. There are multiple factors contributing to this.

  • The amount of marketing activities has increased dramatically. Imagine what a typical CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) has to do in the modern world: supervising product development, researching the audience, managing sales and distribution channels, ensuring reasonable pricing, and overseeing customer service. A team without a dedicated specialist who can cover the activities listed above will fail to operate properly and generate profit.
  • The technological aspect of business has become much more complicated. Various IT processes terrify modern entrepreneurs. The bigger your idea, the more IT processes you will have to convey at some point—working with the cloud, managing multiple software types, etc. There are simply too many different processes that should not be ignored in order to ensure the success of your business.
  • Businesses have started to demand scalability. Today, every single investor looks at any idea to evaluate its future prospects. Your start-up needs to be scalable. If you have an e-commerce project, you need solid a backend and adjustable frontend. If you have an offline manufacturing facility, it has to have a room for expansion both technologically and territorially.

There are more issues to be factored in, but those listed above are more than enough for the sake of our argument. Analyzing them one by one, we will find the answer to whether start-ups need to hire additional specialists to run complementary business processes or not.

Do you need a CMO?

With the number of distribution and marketing channels growing constantly, it is imperative to keep an eye on the situation in the market. This is barely possible without dedicated personnel. We can name a couple of universal people who have ever existed on this planet, chances are neither you nor us are amongst them. Let’s see what tasks a typical CMO can run.

  • Analytical tasks. This group of tasks usually includes important researches. Market analysis and pricing are the most obvious ones. However, there are more important analytical tasks related to analyzing the audience.
  • Creative tasks. Without innovative and engaging marketing campaigns, modern businesses will fail to attract enough attention. Designing advertisements and planning interesting deals and promotions certainly helps to grow your business.
  • Communicational tasks. Your CMO has to be in touch with your audience and manage important social media marketing activities. Supervising various social marketing activities is more than important for a successful business.

If you want your business to be financially successful, you simply cannot ignore the aforementioned tasks. You need to do them yourself, or have a dedicated person to do them for you. The latter is usually more efficient, as entrepreneurs themselves have to manage other aspects of the start-up, including overall project management and business relations.

Do you really need a CIO?

The Chief Information Officer is the person in charge of the IT processes and technological aspects of your start-up. While modern entrepreneurs are often developers themselves, it still doesn’t mean that you can run all of the IT processes without any help.

When the team is focused on working on the project, someone has to ensure that the IT aspects of the project work smoothly and without interruption. For the sake of our argument, we will refer to CDOs, CIOs, and CTOs as IT managers.

A good IT manager will run a multitude of tasks. Frequently, their responsibilities will cover the functionality of VMO (Vendor Management Office).

  • Supervising various IT processes. Basically all IT-related processes that you have within your company have to be addressed one way or another. It is nice to have a dedicated specialist who will address them in a timely manner. Less server downtime, better servers in general, efficient IT outsourcing—all can be ensured with the attention and expertise provided by a good IT manager.
  • Supervising IT outsourcing. Many start-ups fail to properly outsource their IT processes due to having limited knowledge about specific IT tasks or not being able to analyze the outsourcing market. If you need someone to report to you about the general flow of various IT outsourcing contracts, make sure you have a responsible CTO.

Looking at the perspective of running a successful modern start-up without anyone to manage its IT side is a terrible feeling. Companies that are lacking technologically amaze neither experts nor customers. When the IoT exists, having an e-commerce project that has no representation in the world of mobile applications is a surefire way to disastrous failure.

C-level executives in a start-up

Do you need specialized personnel?

If you want to build a cohesive team that can develop a product or offer a service that will change the world, you need a versatile set of skills at your disposal. It is hard to find all-around professionals that can provide meaningful expertise in multiple domains. We have rarely seen accountants/coders whose projects were perfect from both a technological and financial point of view.

There is no doubt that an organization needs proper distribution of responsibilities. Having jacks of all trades on your team is rarely a good solution. On the other hand, having a team full of true professionals who specialize in certain aspects of your business is like preparing an answer to any problem that can arise.

To top it all off, teams that have efficient management structure and managerial infrastructure earn some credit when talking to potential investors. Usually people with money are those who have already created a successful business and know that a company can be efficient only with proper management. It is simply impossible to get funding after saying something along the lines of “We are a team of professional burger-makers who want to build an e-commerce empire from scratch!” If a potential investor can’t see an IT professional amongst you, he will unlikely risk his money.

The same goes for any IT startup that wants to build a successful business without marketing specialists, smart accountants, and great business analysts. It’s like a football team that has no goalkeeper, no defenders, and no midfielders, they just have a bunch of talented forwards who only want to score. Such a team will never be successful.

Conclusion

Any modern startup team needs to be as versatile as possible. We do not dismiss the idea of an independent enthusiastic team that has a dream. You can definitely make some profits and build a business that will bring in revenue. However, this business will never be big enough to make you a millionaire! If you have big ambitions and want to change the world with your start-up idea, be sure to bring in specialists who wear suits and prefer ties to sneakers.

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