I added a COO as a cofounder to my company. He was talented, had tons of experience and knowledge, and he helped me secure funding.
There was just one little problem with having a Chief Operations Officer in a startup, especially an early stage startup. And that problem is…
Startups, especially early stage startups, don’t need a Chief Operations Officer.
A COO typically will manage part or all of the daily operations of a company. The Chief Executive Officer is now free to focus more on the long term strategy of the company.
The problem is the CEO of a startup needs to be focused on the daily operations of the company and the strategy of the company. You, the CEO, need to be hyper-focused on the details early on in order to succeed.
When do you need a COO?
Maybe never. Certainly having a COO is not necessary for success. Then when your company gets large enough when having a COO makes sense, you can pull the trigger. But don’t promote someone too soon like I did to COO.
Why? Bringing in COO too soon creates unnecessary ego gratification. A five person company doesn’t need a COO. A twenty person company doesn’t need a COO. A one hundred person company doesn’t need a COO.
Maybe a 1,000 person company needs a COO. Maybe.
You’re always looking at the talent you have inside of the company. What are their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses?
Then, when you’re big enough where it makes sense to have a COO, that’s when you pull the trigger. But only if…
Can you find someone who can take over some of the day to day management of the company?
If you can, that person might be your COO. That person might also be your President or Senior VP of Operations. It’s really about how you want to divide the work and what titles will satisfy you and your team.
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