Rush a COO hire at your own peril

Rush a COO hire at your own peril

Are you struggling to prioritise?

To build the right team?

To embed new ways of working as you grow?

Do you find yourself needing a second opinion?

Is your team not moving as fast as you’d like, and perhaps the business is slowing down?

Are your investors or board asking you tough questions about performance and compliance?

Perhaps you actually don’t know what questions to ask and so you’re not sure where or how to seek help! You just know you can no longer do everything.

As a start-up Founder, or CEO, you’re:

  • A visionary. You’re setting out the mission and painting that picture of where the business needs to be
  • The figurehead of a growing business. You’re inevitably increasingly absent to your team
  • Juggling sales, marketing, HR, product development and much more. You’ve done every role and know them intimately

You know when you discover a new product (think iPhone,Uber…) then introduce it into your routine and quickly wonder how you ever got by without it?

Well, the role of a Chief Operating Officer – or COO – is very similar.

A start-up COO will:

  • Focus the team on delivery of the promises made to investors in your pitch deck
  • Support your growth by bolstering business capabilities in areas where you might have less experience, or less interest
  • Offer rapid and efficient solutions to growth related challenges
  • Ensure teams and processes put in place are sustainable for the next phase of growth

If your growth goal is to multiply the size of your business – whether 2x, 3x or 10x over a short space of time, all areas of your business will feel the impact.

As we mentioned in our previous article Introducing The Growth Works, “A COO’s role is anything but siloed. Operations, structuring teams, commercial growth and acquisitions, product and technology development. All this (and more!) falls under the responsibility of a COO.”

  • Is running the day to day operations of the business preventing you from focusing on growth?
  • Do you need to standardise existing processes to ease expansion and scaling up?
  • Do you have a sense that performance isn’t where you need it to be, but lack the data to prove your point and explain this to your team?
  • Do you struggle to lead sales and customer teams but know expanding is important?
  • Are you confident that your back office operations – finance, legal, hr, facilities, office management – will be strong enough to survive the business doubling or tripling in size?

All of these challenges can fall under the remit of COO responsibilities. So as you can see, bringing this role into your business is an important, highly strategic hire.

Every startup looking to move into the next stage of growth will have unique challenges, customers and ambitions. Whoever fits the bill for your startup may not be right for the next!

The COO is a significant hire and there’s a lot of consideration. There’s no other role that needs to have such a strong personal fit with you and the company’s values – absolute commitment to your mission. It needs to provide healthy challenge and debate.

A strong COO ruthlessly tests ideas and measured the success of projects with data. A useful balance to the equally valuable gut feel often deployed by the Founder.

One of our clients, a leading tour operator in the UK, took 6 months working with The Growth Works to embed a refreshed strategy, accelerate growth, assess the teams in place and identify areas needing new capabilities. After that, the COO hire took just 2 weeks from brief to final interview. The CEO and leadership team knew exactly what leadership abilities, experience and values they were looking for and were ready to make the investment.

As a Founder, you’re undoubtedly protective of your business. And so you should be. Your COO should be nothing less than your trusted advisor. They should be the ‘integrator’: connecting people, processes and systems right across the business.

Startups are created by ideas people. People who see a gap in the market, develop a vision and perhaps most importantly, sell that vision with passion. Increasingly, founders and startup CEOs are young, dynamic and creative. But what many founders possess in dynamism, they may lack in business operations experience. And that is both understandable and acceptable!

And yes, at the start of the journey the role of CEO will be head of sales, marketing, product, HR and much more. That’s natural. And for most CEOs part of the fun.

To quote VentureBeat:

“Once the company passes the startup phase where the product, customer and distribution model have been identified, operational expertise starts to become more critical – and a functionally experienced senior management team becomes valuable. Hiring, motivating, challenging and retaining such managers all require significant operational experience.  This is where the founding CEO often begins to falter, but it’s when a COO role makes the most sense.”

The Growth Works is committed to plugging that gap with on tap COO services. We create the sounding board you need to drive focus, stronger process, and have teams pulling in the same direction.

Before you hire that full-time COO, we’ll be your partner, advisor and sounding board to support your next phase of growth. We’ll bring a wealth of experience, save you precious time and get things moving. Fast.

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