Hire the Right Executives to Grow your Company

An excerpt from WetFeet.com by Frank Marquardt

Startups depend on their leaders. Finding executives with the management experience and business knowledge necessary to execute against the business plan is critical in building effective teams. It’s also essential if you’re going to convince investors to fund your dream.

Of course, you’re going to want your CTO to have different skills than your CEO. But that doesn’t mean you won’t look for similar qualities in all the executives you hire.

Senior Managers Are Not Ordinary Managers

When you’re building your senior management team, there’s a lot to keep in mind. You want to maintain your culture and ensure there’s chemistry with the rest of your team. You’ll want to find leaders able to take your company to the next level quickly.  And you’re going to depend upon the person’s CV to help you get the funding you need.

Consider the Person’s Background

Not everybody fits in the startup environment. In picking a senior executive, you need someone who can do a lot with a little and has the passion to build a bare-bones company from the ground up. If they’re too good to get their hands dirty with the rest of the team, they’re not going to fit in. Look at what risks they’ve taken in their career and what’s motivating their move to a startup.

Look For Domain Experience

Executives who don’t know the business will have trouble doing business. While the Web changes the rules of business, it doesn’t change the fundamental business you’re going to be in.

Without domain experience, your executives will need to learn a whole new language, while building a Rolodex of new contacts. A competitor who has a domain expert on its executive team will leave you choking on its dust.

You Want an Entrepreneur With Passion

You need executives who are builders, able to embrace the risks that come with starting up a company.  An entrepreneurial executive in general is very independent, very creative, very solution oriented, very focused, and can work without a lot of support, meaning support staff.  Conversely,  a large-company executive is used to many resources, generally gets things done by delegation, can be more consensus-driven versus independent-thought-process driven.

Figure Out Who You Need, When

Executives play different roles. Your CEO will set the vision internally and sell your plan to the outside world. The COO, on the other hand, is the internal operator in charge of bringing different business areas together and getting things done.

What follows are some additional things to keep in mind when hiring executives for your startup:

  • Make Sure They’re Net Savvy. When you’re creating an Internet company, you need people who understand what is new—what it can do and how they can use it.
  • Is There a Cultural Fit? Few things disrupt a team as much as a leader who doesn’t fit in. When you bring in senior managers who don’t share the vision and values of the rest of the company, you create resentment among the rank and file and imperil your company’s ability to execute.
  • Who Joins the Executive? Great leaders attract loyal followers. Find out if your executive will bring people with him or her—or has the magnetic personality to attract talented hires. That’s a competitive advantage when you’re recruiting for the best in a tight market.

You need the right people with the right experience doing the right things to take your business forward. Pick your executives carefully.

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