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Key Roles to Hire for a Startup Company – Founder’s Guide to Startup Roles

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01 July 2022

Ask any successful startup business owner about their top three prerogatives, and they will answer “hiring the right people”. Having professional, loyal, and motivated people is important for any company. But for startups, it’s simply essential!

Major studies show that 82% of successful business owners admit they and their teams have the right qualifications and backed-up experience to run a company, even with limited cash flow!

Fledgling businesses depend on the quality of their human capital to grow and thrive. People in the key roles play a strategic part in the efforts to make a new business endeavor successful.

When it comes to startups, human capital is the key to success. But what are those key roles? And more importantly, how to make sure that your company has the right people working in essential directions?

These are tough questions. And sometimes, answers to those questions determine the success of your startup. With that in mind, we have prepared an in-depth guide to key startup roles.

Key Roles

On average, it takes six months to hire someone for a startup! This process is not only time-consuming but is also related to financial resources. The average cost of hiring a new employee equal 6000 USD. So, hiring people for startups is both time-consuming and costly.

When important positions are vacant, founders must take a tremendous burden and complete tasks that are not related to strategic development. According to the Entrepreneur report, startup owners can spend around 40% of their working hours on tasks that do not generate income such as hiring, HR tasks, and payroll!

Since money and time are the two most critical resources for startups, it’s important to know which roles are crucial to fill immediately!

Here are some important ones you should consider:

Number 1: The CEO

The Chief Executive Officer or the CEO is typically a person who can see the big picture. The CEO is responsible for crafting strategy and direction for the company. In addition, this person is the one who creates and brings to life the culture and values of the startup.

The chief executive officer focuses on the needs of everybody from investors to employees, customers, and the board of directors (if the startup already has one).

In sum, the CEO is a visionary person. They are the people who should find new opportunities for their product in the market, think about their customers and care about the company’s reputation and culture.

Number 2: The COO

The Chief Operations Manager or COO is the person who makes sure all processes run smoothly on a day-to-day basis. In other words, the COO makes the visionary’s thoughts and strategies come to life!

It’s surprising to see that only a few start-ups think that they need a COO. But they do! Unless your CEO has a superabundance of operational talents and skills, it's critical to have one!

The COO roles and responsibilities vary depending on the startup and the industry they are working in. However, we can still define some of the main responsibilities. The COO is responsible for executing all strategies and plans, overseeing all business operations, and leading strategic initiatives.

Number 3: CTO

The Chief Technology Officer or the CTO is a person who oversees all technological innovations, infrastructure, and initiatives of a company. You might be thinking now: do I need to have CTO in my core team if my company is not a tech startup?

The answer to this question is simple: yes, you do! As we read in Wall Street Journal technology column, “every company is now a tech company.” With software and IT playing a vital role in the world around us, your startup’s technology resources are some of its most valuable assets.

The roles and responsibilities of a CTO vary from one company to another. But some of the main areas are:

Identifying the right technology solutions to turn concepts into reality

Recruiting and hiring software engineers and technical managers

Developing the company’s long-term technology strategy and vision

There’s a significant difference between a CTO at a large company and CTO working for a startup. In bigger companies, a CTO oversees processes and is responsible for the administrative side of the business. A startup CTO acts as the company’s go-to person for any central technical solutions, which makes this person’s presence (or absence) especially crucial.

Number 4: CMO

The Chief Marketing Officer or the CMO is responsible for building out your marketing team, improving the company’s brand awareness, and boosting sales.

Unfortunately, the role of the CMO is overlooked in many startups, but it is essential to hire a chief marketing officer as soon as your company’s marketing becomes more complex.

There comes a time when it’s essential to take your strategies and marketing efforts to the next level. At a certain point, a startup CEO’s marketing knowledge is no longer satisfactory for the business’s successful development.

When it is the time for hiring a CMO for a start-up, make sure that they have all the right skills to structure marketing departments. You might not have a huge marketing team right now, but as your company grows, your team will grow too. So, you want somebody who is not only a skilful marketer but is a great manager too.

Number 5: Business Development Manager

When you have your chief officer positions filled, it’s time to think about another key position - the business development manager! This combines different aspects of a sales representative, a marketing analyst, and a business analyst.

A skilful business development manager should be able to identify new business opportunities, look for areas to grow, new markets to explore, and partnerships to develop. All these aspects are crucial if a startup wants to grow and become more successful.

In the ideal situation, business development managers should look for new funding sources and investments. For the first year or two, this area can be even more important than other ones. Nearly 30% of startups fail because they unable to secure the necessary funding and attract new investors, and that's why business development manager is a role you should consider very carefully!

Number 6: Customer Manager

Statistical information tells us that paying attention to your customers is important since 14% of startups fail due to not regarding customers’ needs. That’s why so essential to have a very qualified, dedicated customer manager or customer success manager.

It doesn’t matter how excellent your goods or services are if your business isn’t effectively communicating with its customers and clients. Without professional handling of customer inquiries, calls, or concerns, your reputation will suffer. You’ll want to fill this role as soon as possible.

How to Find the Right People for your Startup

Hiring the right talent is quite challenging. Yet, it is the distinguishing factor between a thriving startup and a struggling one. And, if that is so essential, what can you do to hire top talents for your startup?

First, you should work on your employer branding. Start the process by developing the company’s unique value proposition by focusing on your company's mission statement, vision, and culture. Make sure that your employer brand reflects your company’s true values.

Carefully think about each step you take in terms of employer branding. Try to do everything possible to market yourself as a desired employer.

Once you’re satisfied with your company’s reputation in the eyes of the possible employees, think about job descriptions. As we have mentioned above, the recruitment process is costly and time-consuming. Startups cannot afford to hire the wrong people, so think carefully about who you are looking for.

Now that you know who is the perfect fit, craft detailed job descriptions, include skill requirements, preferred education levels, previous experience, geographic location and other characteristics in your personas’ kit.

Lastly, you will need to consider the ways you are going to spread information about your job opening. Use every channel possible! Post your job description in thematic groups and industry-related pages on popular social media networks. Be active on LinkedIn. Look for active and inspiring candidates on that platform and reach out to them with your offer.

To Sum

Without filling the key roles with skilled and motivated people, your startup will have a low chance of success. Lack of strong leadership is one of the leading reasons for failure in small businesses.

We hope this guide has provided you with all the essential information about key positions in every startup. Keep in mind that all companies are different, and you might also need to think about other roles that are important for your needs and requirements.

But whatever you decide is essential, don’t forget to hire only the right people!