Charles Brecque

Charles Brecque


June 20, 2023

When Does Your Startup Need a COO?

This article outlines different scenarios which indicates your company needs a COO and provides tips on how to find one.

When Does Your Startup Need a COO?

Establishing a startup is exciting and can be extremely satisfying, especially when the results start trickling in. However, managing one does come with a lot of challenges.

If you find that there’s too much work to go around for you and your current staff, it may be time to consider inviting a new member – such as a COO – into your startup.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • What a COO is, and what their responsibilities are
  • Situations that suggest hiring a COO is necessary
  • A few tips to help you hire the right person for the role of COO.

Let’s dive right in!

What Is a COO? The Chief Operations Officer Job Description

The Chief Operations Officer, or COO, is typically considered the second in command in a business after the company’s CEO. 

The COO usually oversees the everyday operations of a company and deals with internal affairs, as well as design and execute business plans.

To do this, the COO will regularly coordinate with your startup’s departments and report operations to the CEO.

COO Roles and Responsibilities

While the exact scope of responsibilities that the COO plays varies with each company, the following are the usual tasks that the COO handles:

  • Overseeing operations and administration on a day-to-day basi
  • Assisting and answering to the CEO
  • Designing and carrying out business models and plans
  • Overseeing production, marketing, and sales.

How Do You Know If Your Startup Needs a COO?

Generally, the COO’s role is to answer to the CEO of a company or business. 

You’ll know that your startup is in need of a COO when you’re beginning to feel like you or your CEO have too much work on your plate, or if your CEO indicates that they may need a right-hand man.

Here are some other situations suggesting that a COO is required for your startup:

When You’re Overloaded with Growth

A rapidly growing startup is a blessing and a curse. Of course, you’ll be pleased that your business is creating so much traction, but a burnt-out staff team is not a productive one and runs the risk of dissatisfaction and high turnover rates.

If your company is being overloaded with growth, it may be time to look into hiring a COO.

A COO can help manage your startup’s growth by relieving some pressure from your CEO and delegating the management of the company’s internal affairs to the former. 

When hiring a COO, consider finding someone who has a different skillset from your CEO as this will create a broader skill environment between the two.

When You’re in Need for Streamlined Internal Operations

Making sure your internal operations are running smoothly will help to create more profit for your business and achieve a sense of optimal efficiency in company processes. 

Hiring a COO helps create streamlined internal operations so that your startup operates smoothly and efficiently.

Internal operations include things like marketing, sales, and hiring; these are all responsibilities that you can assign to your COO. 

In doing so, you’ll clear up space in your CEO’s daily responsibilities, allowing them to focus more on achieving big picture goals for the company.

When You’re Unable to Handle Day-to-Day Operations

Running a startup is challenging enough as it is, without feeling that your day-to-day operations are always seeping into the next day because you’re struggling to execute them on time. 

Day-to-day operations are also very unpredictable in nature as you never know what crises or mishaps may happen each day.

By hiring a COO, you’ll be taking a lot of stress off your company – and especially from your CEO. 

A COO helps manage day-to-day operations and promptly deal with problems when they arise. They’ll make sure your startup never falls behind on daily tasks and responsibilities so that the entire company continues to trend in the right direction.

Tips on Finding the Right COO for Your Startup

Hiring any member of staff is challenging, especially when the role is as important as the COO. 

While it may be hard to know what exact kind of hiring process you need to use in finding the best COO for your company, there are a few tips to observe when looking for one:

Look For Someone with Strong Experience in Leadership and Operations

Experience in leadership roles is everything when it comes to hiring a COO. 

A COO needs to have great coaching skills and should be able to lead their team through any dilemma or issue. The right candidate will be an involved part of the team and communicate well.

A good COO will also lead your staff with experience while demonstrating respect for them and the CEO.

If problems arise, the COO will have enough leadership skills and experience to calmly and confidently forge a win-win solution. They should also be able to efficiently and clearly communicate that solution to the team and rally everyone’s support.

Industry-Specific Knowledge Is Not Always Necessary

Someone can be a good COO even if they don’t know everything about the specific industry but instead possesses the skills to quickly learn on the job. 

As such, you don’t need to worry too much about hiring someone with experience in the industry that your startup is in.

Many of the skills that COOs acquire in their work are transferable. This means that as long as the person you hire has the skills required to be a COO, they can work in almost any COO position effectively.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if the COO you hire comes from a completely different industry, as long as they have the skills to transfer and can apply their knowledge to your business.

COO Must Execute Company Vision

Your startup’s COO should be focused on your company’s long-term goals and objectives and should work in line with the vision your company has. 

They should listen to the CEO about what the company’s objectives are and not go off-target with their operations. 

One way a COO does this is by handling the small tasks and operations that build on the goal that the company is collectively working towards. 

The CEO should be able to address the bigger picture and trust that the COO has the day-to-day tasks and operations under control. 

Thoroughly Vet COO Candidates

A big mistake that startups make is not vetting their COO thoroughly enough – leading to disaster when the new COO isn’t doing their job correctly. 

Don’t rush the process; you may be eager to hire someone right away, but remember that it’s worthwhile to take your time in finding the best candidate for the role

It’s a great idea to vet your COO candidates by contacting the references they provide. This will give you a chance to speak to people who know the candidates well and can tell you whether they were a good employee at their company. 

You’ll need to make sure that your candidate has sufficient experience in management roles, so check that with their references as well. 

Remember that employers can be biased and that not every role is right for every COO, so make sure to check a mix of different references.

Consider Nationwide Search Options

You’ll be surprised at how many amazing candidates you’ll find when you extend your search for a COO to a nationwide level. 

There will be experienced candidates all across the country who will happily apply for the position of COO in your company given the opportunity. 

One easy way to do this is to use recruiters that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and provide you with a wide range of candidates to interview. 

Hiring firms for COO positions can be found through Google and sites such as Agency Central.

Key Takeaways

Your startup is something that you’ve worked extremely hard to establish, so you’ll want to make sure that it continues to run smoothly with the right staff and team. 

Hiring a COO is perfect for managing day-to-day operations, internal affairs, and more. A good COO will help your startup thrive and take pressure off the CEO’s shoulders. 

You’ll know you’ve made the right choice when your COO directly contributes to the startup’s continued growth and development!

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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