The path to the C-suite is long and winding. It’s tough and you will suffer setbacks. In the midst of the hardship don’t forget what your goal is; to be part of the upper echelon. The C-suite is where the most complex, important and financially vital decisions get made. There are only a handful of people who really want to hold a job title with the word ‘chief’ in it.
But what if, you own a business and instead of trying to join the C-suite of a company, you were trying to create one? Now you must look at this unique structure from a top-down perspective instead of the opposite. As the CEO of a small business, what kind of people, skills, qualifications, expertise, experience, and temperaments should you have around you?
Your Right-Hand Man
Every CEO in the FTSE100 and the Fortune 500 indices, has a personal advisor. This is not necessarily a financial, legal, or risk advisor but someone who is well-versed in business. It’s not uncommon for these people to be referred to as special advisors. It’s difficult to say how one would acquire such a person as a small business owner, but there are a number of ways that could yield results.
Search for a Mentor
It’s a smart move to search for a mentor. This can be done online, but heading to a senior industry event or better yet, a conference would be your best bet. You will need to speak with the most experienced veterans in your industry at these conferences, which usually means buying some kind of VIP ticket to the after-party or personal meet and greet opportunities at a bar. It’s vital that you get out of your comfort zone and be honest about your search for someone senior, to guide you in your business journey. Obviously, this will cost you a pretty penny but if you cannot afford the best, you can always ask for more contacts and get in touch with someone more in your price range.
Special advisors will play a pivotal role in your business. They will advise you on every minor and major decision. Using their experience and knowledge, you will avoid making silly mistakes and fast-track your way to growth.
Hiring a Crow
You’re probably quite familiar with the usual C-suite titles. The most common are Chief Financial Officer, Chief Research Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, etc. However, these roles are generally department-oriented and they don’t necessarily play an executive role in your decision-making. A Chief Risk Officer does, however. This is someone who runs a small department and is geared toward assessing every danger that poses a threat to your business. Far too many small business owners don’t realize how important a ‘Crow’ is. Their nickname suggests what they do, they hover over you and call out when they spot danger.
One of the first things you should do to create your C-suite is to hire a Chief Risk Officer. They can use their analytical mind to assess each candidate for the other C-suite roles. Their profession is to act as a lighthouse. They will warn you of deficiencies in character, certain incidents in their career, their level of experience and what kind of temperament they have.
In their own department, the CRO will seek to hire risk analysts and risk managers. They will study all financial, legal and business reports to give you affirmative choices, as to how to move forward.
Where the Buck Usually Stops
Money doesn’t solve everything, not even in business, but it does give you options. The financial department is where the buck usually stops with regard to your operations, plans and obligations. Therefore, selecting a great CFO is the second or first priority when creating your own C-suite. And yet, you should not have to rely totally on your CFO to do the accounting of his or her department. As the CEO, you will need to read over and assess what the CFO has done. Perhaps in no other area of business, are you required to have some kind of professional knowledge, other than in the finances of your business.
For this, you can enroll into the online University of Nevada Reno for an accounting analyst course. Unlike standard accounting, accounting analysts will absorb the financial information and make assessments regarding the operational desires and capabilities of the business. Accounting analysts are responsible for reporting the company’s financial data on a day-to-day period. You’re reviewing key financial decisions and assessing whether they are detrimental or beneficial to the business. This includes investment strategies, partnerships, and evaluating market trends.
The CFO’s job is to balance the books and give you accurate reports on what areas need more money to succeed. With your accounting analyst skills, you can keep your finger on the pulse but give the responsibility of planning ahead to someone else.
The Structure of Decision-Making
Small business owners will be new to the idea of having more qualified people than they are in key areas of their own business, sitting around their table. This can be quite daunting as you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your C-suite. Looking badly informed and erratic in front of them, would not fill them with confidence. Although you must take some personal responsibility to read their reports, do your own research, and think carefully about what questions you want to be answered, there is a protocol for decision-making that will guide you too.
Every business has its own way of doing things, but once you adhere to a basic decision-making process, you can evolve your own methods.
Make the C-suite take a position. Your department Chiefs cannot get away with ambiguous advice. You must ask them to stand by a stance. In other words, force them into giving you a definitive answer to your questions.
Do not make every small decision. You must trust your C-suite to take responsibility for how they run their own departments. This can be scary as you don’t want the company’s culture to split into mini enclaves. Yet, you must allow your C-suite to run their own ships to make them work at their best.
Assign your CRO to play on an imaginary opposing team. In other words, ask them to assess the decisions of the other C-suite roles as well as your own, from the perspective of a competitor, regulator, or investor.
As hard as it may be, you must not overrule your C-suite too often. Although it’s your business to run, no one likes a dictator. If you feel very strongly about something, then and only then, should you feel the need to veto members of your C-suite.
After every decision has been implemented, perform a quick and then long-term analysis. This responsibility lands in the lap of the CRO. They must monitor each new decision and tell you when it was wrong or right, based on analytical reporting.
If you realize you have made a wrong turn, don’t be afraid to make a u-turn as soon as possible. You should do it quicker than hesitate and allow the situation to get worse because you don’t want to disrupt the social dynamic of your C-suite.
The C-suite is the structure from which you will control your business empire. Just like other power structures, you cannot make all the decisions by yourself. Hence why it’s important that you feel confident in delegating responsibilities to other professionals. Once you understand how each department and C-suite role functions, your hiring process will need to rigorously test candidates to see if they meet your expectations. One of the first things you should do is, either hire a special advisor or a Chief Risk Officer. Both have the skills to guide you forward, every step of the way.