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.
as fresh working management team you would need a mentor to boost your team and keep them alive and active so you would need a CSO who can execute the whole team properly and make the best of them .
In a word - No.
The key roles in a start up will depend on the key barriers to success; almost always these will be:
(a) Funding - CEO
(b) Technology (CTO)
(c) Product - Market fit (CMO , VP Sales / VP Products)
The above triangle is all you need to represent all aspects - and resolve all trade-offs - of running business: Quality(feasibility, desirability) vs Time(milestones, delivery) vs. Money (burn rate, iterations).
Richard Stern- That position would be the COO.
The person in that position has the responsibility to manage the set up of the operations of the company, but also the strategies fo all departments.
You should ask yourself the question another way, e.g. do I personally have the skill set not only to define the "best" strategic direction, but also to drive a stringent execution ?
Think about it and it is likely you'll come up with a need for a CFO (finance, including Yes/No capital raising & management), a CCO (commercial, e.g. marketing & sales), and a COO (operations, including Y/N distribution channels). They will run the day-to-day business.
The need for a CSO should then be considered in relation to the profile of those 3, their strategic thinking in particular.
It is then your choice !
Either your want your management team to focus on day-to-day delivery and then you bring a CSO or an advisory board in to help you with stategy development, or you bet on your management team to help you defining/refining the strategy as a Team.
No. Startups are made by good ideas, a plan and hard work...if you don't have those to begin with there's no point in paying to add them in a position.
Raymond, I have several questions first -
- how long have you been in business?
- who else is already on your team?
- what have been your current operational or business development challenges or gaps? And, what does goals does your 2015 have you pursuing?
- what function or role are you playing currently, and plan for long term?
- when you say management team, you are not talking board of advisors or directors, but the daily management team of CEO, CFO, CSO (sales) and/or CMO(marketing, etc...- do you already have your core functions being supported - Finance, Operations, etc...- what type of business do you have? Does it require constant innovation, invention, trend following, branding, etc...(many of the things a true strategy officer (along with marketing functions) focuses on?
Depending on the maturity of your business, the gaps or challenges you have had and the goals you will be pursuing...you need to use that to determine the prioritization of 'investing' in any role, CSO or anything else.
Don't be the majority of business owners with rosey glasses, who goes out and burns through cash hiring roles they are not prepared to support and fully leverage.
It has to be well thought out.
And to others points below - having a board of directors or advisors also is due to specific needs you and/or your business needs. Certainly surround yourself and seek out experts and advisors...how formal they need to be, again, depends on your goals, i.e. raising money, needing governance, etc.
The visionary of the start-up in this case "YOU" are the CSO why do you need another CSO? If you have a vision and a mission then define the goals and create a strategy to get there.
To my experience CSO is necessary for the growth of your firm.
If you can afford to, I am all for delegating responsibilities. When you put together a trusted team, others may see ways to improve your business that you may be too close to see.