Starting a business means wearing many hats. You can be CEO and handle marketing and operations at the same time. You might feel ready to hire a formal executive team as you find your footing. 

What you need, your budget, and long-term goals will determine which C-suite position is right for you. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to hiring talent, but the goal is always the same: hire people who will help the company succeed.

Let’s take a look at when and how to hire an executive team.

What’s the best time to hire an executive team?

You’ll have to take a look at your current operations to find out. You might be bootstrapping your way through the early days if you’re a startup with limited working capital. Keeping your costs low means working long hours.

When it comes to executive leadership, it’s the right and reasonable thing to do. Consider it an investment in your business – you’re paying highly skilled employees who will hopefully boost your business.

You’ll likely be able to spend more time doing other things if you fill executive leadership roles. You don’t have to worry about social media strategies now that your chief marketing officer is handling them. Business owners can focus on what they do best, which is running their businesses.

Who’s in the C-suite?

You’ll need to decide which executive leadership positions make the most sense for your business. Here are some things you might be able to do, according to employment site Indeed:

  • The CEO is the top guy in a company. It’s the CEO’s job to oversee all other departments and set the business’s direction.
  • As the name implies, the CFO handles big financial stuff. Reviewing financial reports, managing budgets, and managing overall financial planning are all part of the job.
  • The chief technology officer (CTO) ensures technology initiatives support overall business goals.
  • An organization’s chief marketing officer (CMO) creates and executes marketing strategies. Doing market research and running targeted marketing campaigns are usually part of this.

Let your imagination run wild. Depending on your business, you might need a unique executive role – like chief creative officer or employee well-being executive. Good news: you get to choose your executive leadership team. It’s all about communicating expectations.

What if I can’t afford to expand?

It goes without saying that C-suite positions are expensive. The salary for executive leadership positions is usually six figures. Depending on your budget, you may want to fill these positions gradually, prioritizing what’s most in demand. Take a look at what your business needs to grow and start there.

Consider outsourcing key tasks to consultants who do the work without being full-timers. If your company has reliable bookkeeping software, you might hire a freelance accountant to handle key financial tasks. It might cut down on your need for a CFO. 

You might not need traditional executive leadership roles in your business, depending on your organization. You might also enjoy doing some hands-on stuff as a business owner. It could make organizational sense (and save you money) to handle some executive-level stuff yourself. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no right or wrong way to build your executive team. The important thing is to analyze your business needs and forecast when to add the extra expense.

What you need to know about hiring executives

Experience and capability are always top of mind when looking for new employees. It’s even more important when you’re filling executive leadership positions. If you’re searching for candidates, LinkedIn recommends looking for:

  • Experienced corporate manager with 8-10 years’ experience
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Served as a leader in the past
  • Show off your strategic skills
  • Communicates their vision and expectations easily

You can find qualified candidates using your internal recruitment processes once you know what you’re looking for. Alternatively, you can hire a recruitment agency that specializes in executive jobs. Make sure your pay and benefits are competitive enough to attract high-caliber candidates.

Retention goes hand in hand with this. How will you keep your executive leadership team motivated once you fill these roles? Including a bonus structure, for instance, can motivate people. 

Finding the right balance

Investing in your executive team can pay off. Basically, we’re building a team of functional experts. Don’t forget the rest of your team. 

An overly top-heavy company may have disproportionate resources going to executives. You should also invest in your everyday workers.

McKinsey & Company says employees are more engaged at work when the company’s purpose aligns with their own. Additionally, it seems to strengthen employee loyalty and make them more likely to recommend the company. Translation: It might be worthwhile to tap into your employees’ values. 

What matters to them? How can you align these values with their work? Building out an executive team is just as important as investing in employee development. 

Offer employee workshops, training, resource groups, mentorship opportunities, etc. Investing in your workers can also help you bridge communication gaps.

You can’t build a solid executive team overnight. Leading with your company’s needs and goals is key – and staying true to your company values.

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