The reasons small businesses think they need to hire a CTO are often based on myths. See why it may be best for your business to delay this investment.
If you're a small business owner, I already know one thing about you – you are tenacious. I work with small businesses every day, and I have found this to be true for every business owner, from one-person shops to my boss, Michael Dell himself.
Starting a small business is hard, no question about it. You're choosing the right name, registering a domain, setting up accounts, securing funding and finding the right team to help your business grow. Are you stressed yet?
While there are dozens of decisions to make, there is one you can hold off on: hiring a CTO.
If you're shocked that a technology company is telling you that you don't need a technology decision-maker, you're not alone. But waiting to hire a chief technical officer (CTO) can save you precious capital – sometimes over $250,000 annually.
That's not to say that you should ignore technology decisions. In fact, setting up the right technology is one of the most crucial components of the success of your business. The trick is to know the right avenues.
Here are a few reasons that owners often (mistakenly) think they need to hire CTOs.
1. Owners have great ideas about what technology can do for their company but can't execute it themselves.
When starting a business, you're responsible for every decision, from expressing your idea to investors to choosing and managing the tech tools your team will use. It can be tempting to hire someone who knows how to best design and manage the software that will bring your team to success. However, the person for this role may not be a CTO – you may be able to design the right tech suite with external contractors and partners.
2. Owners feel they don't have the expertise to manage technology.
Call it survival of the fittest, but company leaders, regardless of what level of playing field they are on, want to stay ahead of the competition. Many feel that a C-suite member can make the right high-level decisions about technology. That means finding someone with the right background. The problem is, developers who are interested in working full time are incredibly hard to find, and even if you do find one, they may not have the right leadership experience for your business.
For a non-tech expert, it's easy to assume that all tech experts are experts on all aspects of IT. This is simply not the case.
3. Owners want a CTO to advocate for holistic IT strategies.
The responsibilities of a CTO are different from finance advisors and technical co-founders. Finance advisors guide you toward cost-efficient solutions for your business. Technical co-founders – sometimes junior developers – put the structure in place for a tech-based business. CTOs advocate for the holistic IT strategy of the company, for both the short and long term. While this may seem great, it's not completely necessary for a new company.
Depending on your needs, hiring a full-time, dedicated CTO adds the cost of their salary, benefits, equipment, etc. A CTO salary will run you a median cost of $230,000.
So what do you do about technology decisions? You can rely on free resources like tech advisors for Dell.
Dell's small business tech advisors are free to advise you on what technology will set you up for future success. Advisors often address technology-related roadblocks that small business owners encounter along the way.
Most businesses can run without a defined tech expert in a full-time position.