When is a good time to CoHire a CXO?

Author and inspirational speaker  Simon Sinek triggered a new thought process with his famous book ‘Start With Why’. Sinek in fact started a movement with his TED talk on ‘Start with Why’ – reportedly the third most popular TED talk – wherein he inspired millions with his proposition that all successful ventures begin with the question of ‘Why?’

Sinek’s idea is indeed persuasive when you really think about it, and when applied  to all aspects of your life.  But there’s another equally important question, which perhaps someone like  Simon Sinek could address at length, and that’s the question of ‘when?

Indeed any interesting/important initiative also needs the  right time to be put into force. There are great many examples of great products and  businesses that failed simply because they were either ahead of their time or were too late! 

But the question of ‘when’  is significant, not only in the historical context, but also in the context of everyday  corporate and business reality, and even when seen in the light of ‘why’. For example, whether you  are a startup  founder or a senior management professional in an enterprise, every professional decision of yours is obviously backed by  a ‘why’, which even if not obvious, is clearly embedded somewhere in the source of the thought process. But for it to be successful will also need a laser sharp focus in terms of right timing.  

Today when change is the currency against which we measure and determine our business performance, timing can be everything. For a startup, timing also matters when it comes to hiring their senior level professionals, especially when they are CoHiring them.

For those uninitiated into the concept of CoHiring,  it is the process by which a CXO is onboarded on a flexible basis. That is, the CXO has the freedom and flexibility to be simultaneously associated with other non-competing organizations.  The answer to the question of ‘why’ is pretty obvious in this model of senior level hiring. By CoHiring a CXO, an organization can save on considerable costs associated with traditional/full-time senior level hires.  Also, the organization can leverage the benefit of varied professional exposure that a CoHired  senior professional brings to the table . By collaborating with the right partner for the CoHiring process, an organization can work around issues like confidentiality and trust with regard to the CoHired CXO. 

Now comes  the question of ‘when’?  Well, the most obvious answer would be that it depends. And yet, if a CoHiring toolkit for a startup had to be put together , it would possibly list down the following factors as answers to the question of when to CoHire  a CXO:

  • When you realize you can’t do everything on your own :  A no-brainer, one would think. Yet there are enough examples of startup founders stretching themselves thin by donning multiple hats. But there comes a time when they realize that in the process, their focus on their core expertise had been getting diluted, with the result that they are left grappling with the related business consequences. Anyone with long term vision would instantly  discard the multiple hats and rope in function experts. 
  • When your business plans are clearly delineated: The above would also mean that your long term and short term business plans are well charted. Working backwards, it would be easy  to break down  the times lines, milestones and plans of action. Each action plan will obviously need accountability and someone to take on the accountability.
  • When the task demands it: Once the action plans are in place, you will get a fair idea of what the immediate  tasks in hand are. For example, if your product or offering is in place with a robust go-to market plan, then you know it’s time  to CoHire a CMO to map the marketing trajectory for your product or service.  Critical functions like marketing  quite obviously need independent leadership to reap rich dividends and one of the  most cost effective and efficient ways of making it happen would be to CoHire a CMO at the right time, when a market-ready offering is ready to be rolled out. 
  • When you see signs of growth /expansion:  Often businesses fail because they are not prepared for their own growth or success.  Once again, there are enough  examples of innovative ventures/ideas/products that failed simply because they failed to scale up and live up to their own promise.  When you see signs that your offering has huge potential, and most importantly, when your investor is ready to shell out the  next round, you know it’s time  to pull out your next arsenal – the right people for the right job and make sure  it’s done using the most cost efficient and smart strategy, like CoHiring your CXO.

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