How Can I Find a CEO for My Startup?

Head of Financial Partnerships, Xero Americas
min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I’m impressed by your ability to recognize that you aren’t the right person to lead the company. There aren't many entrepreneurs out there that can say they would be able to give up the reins even if it meant a brighter future for the company. I commend you for taking this action. It is my belief that sometimes the people that build the ship aren’t necessarily the best people to sail it. With that in mind, how should you go about finding a CEO for your company?

Experience will likely be the greatest factor that you should consider in finding the right CEO for your health-care startup. Try to find someone that complements your skill-set and experience. You can start this process by building a list of all of the attributes that you don't have that you wish you had prior to developing your business. Given the nature of your question, I would recommend that this person has previously led an early-stage online business through the growth process. Specifically, this person’s experience should cover successful fundraising, building a team, and navigating the un-chartered waters of monetizing a new market. Health-care experience will be a plus, but it's not necessarily a must as long as this person has the ability to find someone else that can fill that gap. While every business is different, I believe that a strong leader can usually grow any business.

Related: How Can I Hire Exceptional Individuals?

Once you've identified the key attributes you're looking for in a leader, you'll need to start reaching out to people in your network and beyond. Ask people that you trust if they know someone with the background you are looking for that might have interest in the business. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone that is currently looking for a new job, but rather someone interested a great opportunity. Attending industry and networking events as well as seeking guidance from advisors can be very helpful. Please note that many companies actually are able to find their key hires from referrals from their board of advisors. If you don't have any advisors, try to seek them out as well.

Related: How can I recruit quality employees?

After you've identified a few individuals that are interested, you're going to have to do some due diligence. Specifically, you'll want to do a thorough background check, request personal references and thoroughly review their past businesses. Think of it less like a new hire and more as an investment. You're going to have to act like an investor and ask them to put together a business plan detailing how they would lead the company. In addition, you’re also going to have to sell them on the opportunity and why they should join your mission. It won’t be easy, but if you present to them a great opportunity that they can believe in, you’ll have a new leader.

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