The Five Key Roles in Every Startup

What A Successful Company Structure Looks Like
November 7, 2018
Interview with Morteza Ghorbani Eftekhar
November 21, 2018

The world of business is a complicated one. It is mired with challenges that would readily sink your budding enterprise, should you fall prey to mismanagement, or poor communication. Hence, at the heart of every startup there should be a management team. They are the essential personnel whose job it is to manage the company, set the goals, and carry out the vital tasks that keep everything running like clockwork. Each individual member is entrusted with a defined set of responsibilities that they, and they alone, must oversee. Ideally, there should be no overlap between roles. Therefore, these are the five key roles that will prove instrumental in making sure you do not veer off course.

First (although the order is arbitrary), we have sales and marketing. The person who holds this role is responsible for brainstorming ideas, particularly on how to reach out to new clients. Which activities and strategies would prove most efficient in accruing customers? Are the proper communication channels being utilized to their full effect? Does the company have a solid online presence? It is this person’s duty to find the answers to these questions, and many more. Without them, you will struggle to get people interested in your product.

Second, there is the Operations Manager, who may also be the CTO if they are working at a tech startup. This individual is charged with delivering the product your company produces, and ensuring that it is delivered on time; they ensure that the standard of quality is met; and that the customer is satisfied with what they got. Their expectations should, whenever possible, be exceeded. After all, a happy client is more likely to share their experience with co-workers, friends, and relatives. Thus, it is in your company’s best interest to deliver a top-notch product, as this might, in turn, generate referrals which could very well translate into sales.

Third, we find the administrator, who deals with the company’s finances and administration proper. As the name implies, they manage all the money your company has at its disposal. To that end, the administrator must keep track of the income you are generating, the expenses that must be paid, when said expenses are due, as well as sending out bills to clients as soon as you close a deal. On the administrative side of things, there will be legal tasks that need to be tackled: paying taxes (such as the VAT), managing salaries, among others. This person should always be able to tell you how much money is coming in, how much is being spent, where it came from, and where it’s going.

Fourth, we have the CEO, the owner the of the company, also known as the integrator. While every other role is very specific in their area of operation, the integrator has a wider field of action. It is their job to build bridges within the company, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. By overseeing the work done by the other five roles, the integrator keeps the company running smoothly and going in the right direction. Another important function they must perform is to keep track of the company’s culture. The company’s culture is an indispensable aspect, as it factors into everything. By clearly outlining what values you consider paramount among your co-workers, not only do you facilitate the development of a solid team spirit, but you also establish a guideline for hiring new people. Values to keep in mind (and follow) include honesty, openness, transparency, motivation, and support. By being honest with everyone, keeping an open mind towards new people and trends, not holding any secrets, keeping everyone motivated, and providing support when difficulties arise, your company may go a long way.

Finally, we reach the visionary, who should be the Chairman of the Board, due to the nature of their work. This person is responsible for generating ideas for the company. They should come up with several ideas per week – ten, for example. Perhaps one or two of those ideas will have potential; the ones that do not are pruned. Then, they must present the selected ideas to the team for approval, at which point it becomes the integrator’s job to implement them across the company. The visionary is the emotional, creative heart of the startup, who works on a strategic level, while the CEO is the rational, tactical brain behind the operation. Additionally, the visionary, with input from everyone else, should set a series of goals that are tackled by everyone at your startup. By having a long-term goal which you aim for over the span of a decade, you create a clear vision of where you want the company to go. This contextualizes the work you are doing, as you progress towards the ultimate, long-term goal. Annual goals are also essential, as they are mid-term, demanding objectives that you strive for and keep your team focused on. Lastly, quarterly goals are the attainable, ninety-day challenges that keep you on track and aligned with the bigger picture. These should be very specific, so that when the quarter is over they may be clearly marked as either accomplished or failed.

To fully coordinate all these different moving parts, weekly team meetings should be convened. Such meetings, contrary to popular belief, are crucial to your company’s wellbeing. They provide a time and place where you may assess what was accomplished during the week, check-up on the quarterly goals that have been set, and establish that week’s to-do list. The meetings also allow members to speak their mind about what issues they are facing. Afterwards, everyone contributes by brainstorming solutions for the problems at hand, which further reinforces the team spirit that is so vital for the company’s longevity. In conclusion, patience is key. Success needs time and effort before it can flourish. By implementing these roles, properly running the meetings, framing a clear set of goals, and fostering a healthy culture established on truth and trust, you will pave the road forward.

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