How to build your start-up management team: Who to hire and when

Eight key recruits to ensure you have the right people to help your business succeed

From day one of your new enterprise, it will probably be just you and a very small team wearing lots of hats to get everything done. But, once your start-up begins to take shape you'll want to start planning your next important recruits. Of course, you don't need to go out and hire a full management team from day one, but as your business grows, so will your team. Hiring the right people early on is key – so where you should you start and what are the options?

1. Advisor

When to hire: You need someone you can trust to run ideas past from day one.

What can they bring to the company? Having an experienced advisor by your side who has worked in your industry can be a valuable asset for a start-up. It's reassuring to have someone who can draw on personal experiences to guide you against making costly mistakes. If they bring with them connections, vital skills you lack, or financial resources they could come on board as your business partner. A business partner can be beneficial for start-up founders as they can not only help manage your spending but will be there to make the hard decisions with you on a day-to-day basis. This advisor could also become part of the board of directors at a later stage.

2. Advisory board

When to hire: One way to get a lot of help for very little cost is to appoint an advisory board early on who agree to meet up with you on a regular basis, perhaps every six weeks and review with you what you are doing and make suggestions about how you can grow.  You will know if you have the right people if they are willing to join the board with nothing but beer and chips in the pub in return when you meet!

What can they bring to the company? People will agree to be on your advisory board because they believe in your product and want to help you get it off the ground – although they might be hoping for an equity stake in the company at a later date. Their wealth of knowledge could prove invaluable to you when starting your business.

3. Sales manager

When to hire: Once your product is ready to go, an essential hire will be a sales manager who can create leads to monetise your business.

What can they bring to the company? The leads they create can get your product exposed to the market and bring customers in. When you think about whom to appoint, decide whether you want someone who will work FOR you i.e. be directed by you or someone who will work WITH you i.e. someone who helps you set your business strategy.

4. Marketing manager

When to hire: Although your sales manager will be focused on generating revenue for your business from the offset, their job becomes a lot easier once you invest in marketing to ensure your brand or product becomes well-known.

What can they bring to the company? A marketing manager will identify which marketing channels are appropriate for your business and what strategies you should apply within those channels. They will have a clear understanding of cost implications and will be able to help you understand the return on investment you can make from marketing activities. Today, you will need someone who knows a lot about marketing via social media.

5. Finance director/Chief financial officer (CFO)

When to hire: Most early stage businesses do not need a proper finance director and can ‘make do' with an accounts clerk who raises invoices, chases debts and generally manages the accounts. (It's a good idea to also have a good accountant who you can call on if you need some specialist advice.) Once you've been trading for a while though and your sales have started to increase it is well worth investing in a finance director/CFO.

What can they bring to the company? Everyone knows that companies can't succeed if the numbers don't stack up so hiring a finance director you can trust will enable you to focus on other elements of the business, safe in the knowledge that your figures are secure. By now you probably will also have looked into getting investment – whether this is from crowdfunding or traditional Angel/VC funding – and you'll want someone to guide you through this process.

6. Chief executive officer (CEO)

When to hire: You've been in charge of your business for a while now; looking after all of the departments to make sure everything's going ok. Now is the time to hire a CEO to look after all of the details for you – the people you need, where the money is going and how you will achieve your goals.

What can they bring to the company? By this point, you can be so bogged down in the details of running your start-up that you can't pull yourself out and take a look at where the company should be going next. With a strong CEO in place, you can focus on your strategy for the future and they can take care of the specifics to help you achieve it.

7. Chief operating/operations officer (COO)

When to hire: If you're struggling to fulfil orders and are losing track of the logistics, a COO will help ensure that you can deliver on your promises. They implement the structure and resources you need to fulfil your orders on a day-to-day basis.

What can they bring to the company? This person measures and tracks your business' activity and so will know instantly if something has gone wrong. By this stage you are able to create your business' strategy, your CEO can implement your plan and your COO can make sure the right processes are in place to achieve it.

8. Board of directors

When to hire: Over time you'll have gained a network of advisors that can grow to a board of directors. These could just be advisors to guide you as you expand, or they could be fully mandated and have a level of responsibility for the company.

What can they bring to the company? A board of directors gives your company legitimacy and a panel of expertise you might not have within your team. Experts in areas such as law, finance and marketing can become a valued resource, providing guidance and much needed advice in critical centres of the business, alongside developing business plans, handling policy issues and focussing overall business strategy. Pitching for Management events enable businesses to present available roles to a talented room full of talented individuals. For more information on your nearest event or to book your place visit the Angel News event booking site.


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