It’s fun and exhilarating to start your own business. But to run it? That can be hard work and may require a Chief Operating Officer, or COO. But how do you know if hiring a COO is the right move? And how do you find someone with the right combination of skills for the job, not to mention a personality that will mesh well with your organization?
If you hate the day-to-day management role, then it’s time, at the very least, to begin thinking about hiring a COO. Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- Make sure it makes financial sense. If your business is small, then you may simply not be in a financial position to pay a COO’s executive salary. Ask yourself if the costs of hiring a COO exceed the financial benefits you’re hoping to achieve by bringing him or her in. If the answer is clearly no, then you need another solution. For instance, if your customers pay for your expertise, then it might make more financial sense to hire some temporary office help or a part-time assistant instead.
- Determine how a COO will free up your time. Don’t wait until you’ve hired someone to figure out how this person will make your life easier. Make a wish list of what you want to accomplish once this person is on board. Do you want more time to focus on sales and marketing? Maybe you need to devote more time to investor relations? Or perhaps you’ve ignored the media for too long, and you’d like to develop some publicity opportunities.
- Determine what the COO will do. Even before you begin interviewing, you should have an idea of what you want the COO’s job to be. Certainly, you might glean some good ideas as you begin to talk to candidates, but you should still know what you’re looking for. Take inventory of what you do to manage your business operations. Ask yourself if you need help with quality control, managing various processes, HR concerns, or order fulfillment. If the answer is “yes” to one or more of these, then it might make sense to hire a COO.
- Interview yourself. It’s easy to run an ad for a COO or put the word out that you’re looking to hire someone. It’s a lot harder, though, to look inward to determine, among other things, how compatible you’d be with a person in this position. What are your own work habits like? Will they conflict with or complement a new COO? Are you detail-oriented even though you consider tedious work a bore? Just because you hate doing something doesn’t necessarily mean you should go out and hire someone to do it for you. And just because you’re good in one area like sales and marketing doesn’t preclude you from excelling in another arena. How good are you at delegating? Can you reasonably expect yourself to hand certain tasks over to someone else?
- Think about training. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will require to train your new COO. Even if you plan to hire someone familiar with your industry, you will probably have to educate the individual on the specific nuances of your organization. This will take time and should not be rushed. Remember, any hiring you do should be a carefully thought-out investment, not a quick fix that you’ll regret later.