Finding Your CEO

by Cody Martin on October 14, 2012

In a previous article, I talked about why some entrepreneurs are not the right people to lead their enterprise once it has grown and is ready to go to the next level. If you are in the same situation, and you realized that you are not indeed the guy to lead the enterprise on, then you face the next challenge; hiring a CEO.

When you were a startup company, having a CEO is not really a priority because whatever you needed to do, you and your team are able to handle it on your own. You do have consultants that help but they are not exactly the people running the business. That is still you.

There are people who are able to stay on as CEO of their own companies like RingCentral’s Vlad Shmunis, but most of the time business owners realize their own limitations in their own ability to lead their own company. When that happens to you, you would need someone to step in and take over the total management of your organization.

But how do you go about hiring a new CEO? Here are some factors you might want to consider:

Look for someone within the industry Finding Your CEO

If you are going to have someone take over for you, make sure that person is at least familiar with the industry that your business is in. Zenprise founder Waheed Qureshi actually hired tech industry consultant Jayaram Bhat as the first CEO of his company because the man was already advising them about running the business. Not only was he an expert in the industry, he was also someone Qureshi is able to trust with the company.

Look for someone with experience with startups

What you want for a CEO is an executive who has previous experience in working with several startups that are also looking to expand and grow. Even if your company has a capable CFO (Chief Financial Officer) the CEO will remain as the top fund raiser of the company. Aside from that, your prospective CEO should also have experience in creating operational plans and implementing it effectively.

Look for someone who will keep the core values and culture you fostered

Of course, giving the reins of your business does not mean that you are also losing your voice. After all, you still own majority of the company shares even as more outside investors are now involved. That is why you and the CEO that you hire should be on the same page with regards the mission and vision of the company, the culture you want to establish and maintain, and the workplace model that you want your employees to have. If you and your CEO do not share the same vision, then it will lead to a lot of unnecessary future conflicts.

By admitting to your own limitations and letting someone who has more skills and experience handle the management of your enterprise, you can stay and contribute to the areas you feel you are best suited to such as product development.

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Wordy Guy

You nailed it. A CEO must be part visionary and part motivator but, especially if your business is a startup or a growth phase, the CEO is a business developer and the ability to raise money is critical.

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