As a startup, do I need a CSO on the management team?
I am looking to build out a management team for my startup. Do I need to include a chief strategy officer? Or are there other more important positions to bring on first?
The CEO is the CSO. If you don't feel comfortable making strategic decisions by yourself, you should consider bringing on a partner or talking to a business consultant.
If you have launched a startup, you have some strategy in place in any case. Secondly, you will find the strategy will undergo modifications every day and the market will automatically drive these changes. The more important piece is strategy execution and if that is what the CSO will do then its fine. You do not need a strategy specialist in the very early days. Having said that in startups, almost everyone does nearly everything as you will find short of bandwidth. So as long you are adding a CXO for management bandwidth necessary, just go ahead.
If you're a start-up and developing a small company, the idea is that you (the founder/owner) have a strategy in place. A CSO is more suited for a much larger company that has a dedicated staff focusing on developing the company. Assuming it's just you at this point, you should probably hire a CFO instead of a CSO. The financial piece isn't as interconnected as everything else and is the most logical thing to take off your plate if you're pressed for time with other start-up obligations.
Keep your management team simple...CEO - Ops, Sales, Finance and Shipping/wharehouse. Add positions as needed as you make money.
Lots of great suggestions have been provided. If you continue to struggle with time, team, money or strategy, consider renting a professional business consultant. High value, low risk.
Your first order of business is to get sales. This proves your concept and brings in some money. If you have a business, chances are you had a strategy as you started, so I'd focus on someone with sales and marketing expertise. You can tweak strategy later.
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What type of start up is it and in what industry? Generally speaking, the CSO is not something you need immediately as its roles and job requirements can be split up among current team members until a later date. The keys in my opinion are a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer. As a start-up you have a limited budget and limited resources and you don't want to go creating yourself more headaches with a role that cannot be fully utilized and optimized at this point (that is not to say you will not need it later). You need someone to make the executive decision, someone to figure out how to pay for it and someone to figured out how its done. Those all require strategy at its core and it is the foundations that should be focused on in the early stages.
In my experience, that depends on the resources you have available. If, as it happens with most startups, your resources are limited then the strategy should be taken on by the CEO or led by the CEO and shared with their team.