How To Hire A CEO For A Start-Up?

Supriya Nigam is a lead Content Writer & Digital Marketing Strategist at CareerBuilder India. Her passion for helping people in all aspects of digital marketing flows through in the expert HR Technology industry coverage she provides. Also, an avid Yoga practitioner.

A wise man once said, “Starting a company is easy, building one is hard”.

Twenty years ago, a conventional start-up model was to have young founder(s) launch a breakthrough enterprise, then bring in “experienced” executives on board once it was time to scale the business.

There is no deny, as a founder of a start-up, your job is to recruit an outstanding team. And, the first step is to mantle yourself indeed with a passionate founder team with complimentary skill sets whom you trust and work well with.

Why should you add veterans in your team?

The answer is simple – to accelerate your business by:

– Communicating best practices for new situations that come with scale

– Establishing a sense of legitimacy in the marketplace

– Setting clear roles, paths and structure to scale the business

– Supporting with sales and recruiting via their network

If you think that now is the time to hire a leader for your firm, then this guide may help you on – How to Hire a CEO for a Start-Up?

With that said, it is a complicated process that you want to take earnestly and assign necessary time towards. CareerBuilder wanted to share a few thoughts on hiring a CEO with right attitude and resources.

How Founders Should Hire a CEO?

How To Hire A CEO For A Start-Up?
Img. Src.

1. Do Not Hire Too Early

“A start-up should hire an Executive when it’s obvious it needs one”, mentioned in Marc Andreessen’s essay on executive hiring.

Also Read:  Must-Have Skills For An Exceptional Client Servicing Career

Simply put, you are better off keeping your burn rate low if you have not found product-market fit rather hiring an expensive executive.

While his or her network and experience can accelerate your business, the company itself should be positioned in the right course.

2. Go with Referrals

Did you know? Most of the CEO hires are made through referrals, while you can spend six figures conducting an executive search. These references typically include your advisory boards, a board of directors and your investors.

On the contrary, if the possible candidate exists contemplate promoting within and save on your recruitment cost (because as a start-up firm, every penny counts).

The ramp-up phase will be much quicker; the process will be markedly faster, and you do not have to worry about any cultural fit issues.

3. Know What You Do Not Know

Before bringing the executive on board, it is imperative to be brutally honest and self-aware about the existing skill-sets of the team. Recognise whether those requirements are functional skills, industry skills, or both.

4. Ensure Vision Alignment

Ahead of hiring a CEO, make sure the person you are considering for the position shares your vision and that are in sync regarding what you anticipate accomplishing for your company.

Also Read:  HIPOS- Creating a Culture of Brand Ambassadors

To identify the alignment, you should question about the potential CEO’s vision and goals for the organisation, how he/she measures success, his/her priorities, ownership interest, and how company decisions will be made.

5. Find your Deal Breakers & Must-Haves

No start-up has one-size-fits-all recruitment model, which makes it challenging to generalise a seamless executive search.

It is essential for him or her to be passionate about what you are building and your space. As a start-up, you want a CEO, who not only guides you but is not afraid to roll up his or her sleeves and be an individual contributor.

Remember, long debates about perks, vacation time, and severances are bad signals. Not to say that these topics did not matter, but they should be secondary.


Once, you are done with your selection, do not micromanage it. To attract and retain great leaders and managers give them an opportunity to execute.

In scaling your business, hiring a CEO is an important business decision. Make sure you do it right and do not rush into it prematurely because it is a significant building block in developing your business.

( 151 visits )