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By Syama Meagher

 

Scaling your business requires a capable CEO who can steer the ship, make short and long-term decisions, and keep everyone on track. The CEO will also report in to a board of directors, and can marry the bottom line of investor/financial needs with the day-to-day operations of the business. A great CEO will ultimately give you the opportunity to be the Chief Innovator or Chief Visionary of your business. Not all founders should be, or need to be, CEO of their companies. Being the CEO can kill your dream if you are not into financials, managing teams and be willing to separate what’s right for the business vs. what you feel is right. If you think you are ready to hire a CEO then read on to make sure you land yourself a good one.

Evaluating Skill Set and Experience

Bringing a CEO onboard requires that they have a strong skill set and set of experiences that you don’t have. To avoid redundancies, make sure you have a solid list of your core competencies. In addition, you should evaluate your goals with your business. Are you interested in selling it eventually? How big do you want your business to be? Identifying your long-term goals will assist you in finding the right CEO who can make it happen.

Bringing a CEO onboard requires that they have a strong skill set and set of experiences that you don’t have.

Personality Profile

I wish there was a Match.com for finding a good CEO. It’s certainly challenging to meet someone who can share a vision for your business, yet also has the right personality to execute on it. A CEO’s primary responsibility is managing the all-star team, and therefore all the major department heads on your big or small team should meet with the CEO to test for fit. A CEO that has been brought on by investors or the founder in a small company without any briefing will be greeted with some resistance- primarily because people are afraid of change. To ensure a smooth transition and high levels of performance, really think about the personality fits of your current employees.

A CEO that has been brought on by investors or the founder in a small company without any briefing will be greeted with some resistance- primarily because people are afraid of change.

Hide and Seek

Finding your dream CEO will take time. Angel List is a great place to post your job opening. Angel List attracts innovative businesses and employees in a primarily tech dominated space. I also suggest to my clients that they talk to their current CPA’s and lawyer’s as they tend to travel in C-level circles working with investors, founders and CEO’s. LinkedIn is also a valuable resource to seek out CEOs and vet for experience.

A note on Interim CEO’s

I’ve served as an interim CEO for fashion companies in the past and it’s been useful for companies in two ways. First, it’s great for startups that know they need some guidance and direction as they build the structure and are hiring more key players. Secondly, it’s helpful for brands that are in transition and are having difficulty finding the right long-term fit. An interim CEO will be on board for 6 months to 1 year. A long-term CEO should be someone with your business 5 years +.

How much will this cost?

Expect to pay a full-time CEO between $75,000 – $400,000 a year depending on experience and the size of the business. You can hire a part-time CEO, but that is only really effective in smaller startups. Alternatively, you can hire a strategic consultant who can help groom you with CEO skills and the cost will range between $150-500 hourly. This is not a bad idea if you just need some direction and an experienced advisor.

What exactly should your CEO be doing?

I love Steve Robbins’ job description for a CEO:

A CEO should be doing “everything”. Everything includes:

1. Setting strategy and direction.
2. Modeling and setting the company’s culture.
3. Building and leading the senior executive team.
4. Allocating capital to the company’s priorities.

In essence, the failure or success of the company will rest in the hands of your future CEO. This is why hiring a CEO can be such a difficult process and time consuming. Most startup founders will want to stay on as long as possible as the CEO of their ventures, and most investors will want you to stay on as well. Your impact on your business and getting it this far is impressive and all parties involved, employees and investors, will need your passion and vision to stay strong. Good luck making this big decision for your business!

Syama Meagher is a retail strategist and CEO of Scaling Retail. She works with fashion brands and retailers on product and brand launches internationally through ecommerce, wholesale and brick & mortar. Syama has previously worked for Barneys New York, Gucci, AHAlife and Macy’s.  To build your brand and create a profitable business visit www.ScalingRetail.com and email hello@scalingretail.com
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