9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero

imagesEvery business — even a startup — needs a mysterious, unsung hero, a COO.

Importance: A COO — particularly one with lots of broad exposure — knows which levers to pull to make each functional area work in a coordinated way, needed for a startup to succeed.

Don’t Wait Too Long: Most startups wait too long to hire a COO.  Hire immediately if you produce a physical product – or if the founder/CEO is immersed in building the technology. Hire when you hit product/market fit if you build digital products.

Why “Mysterious” : Per this Harvard Business Review article, the role of Chief Operating Officer is the most mysterious and misunderstood position because of the complexity and diversity of responsibilities.

Why “Unsung”? The COO always expects to be blamed, yet knows they will miss out on the praise.

Custom: Per Etsy COO, the COO role needs to be custom-defined at every company and requires deep self-awareness from the founder to outline the specific skills and qualities they need in a partner.

How to Customize: Ask three questions: What is CEO drawn to?  Where does CEO procrastinate?  What does CEO want to learn? COO will fill in missing puzzle pieces.

Seven Types of COO’s:   Executor.  Change Agent.  Mentor.  Other Half.  Partner.  Heir-apparent.  MVP.  Many COO’s are a combo of 2 or 3.  I’m usually the Executor, The Change Agent, and the Mentor, though I’ve played all seven roles over the years.

Ten Traits of COO’s: Including among others: they execute; they have an extreme attention to detail; they hire the best people; they always set meeting agendas; they adapt; they build trust with the workforce; they are loyal; their ego is checked; they have chemistry with CEO.  Full Inc. “Ten Traits” article here.

Can’t Afford a COO?: Then hire an interim COO (on a part-time or full-time basis) for 3 – 6 months to get things set up.


What I Do:   I am a professional interim CEO or COO.  Since 2000 I have completed over 20 interim roles in the US and abroad, from pure startups to companies with $25 million in revenue.  I am an agent of change, helping companies get started, restarted, or grow to the next level.

Recent Post:  Workbar Gig Finished; Perfect Example of When A Founding CEO Should Hire an Intrim COO.

LinkedIn  www.linkedin.com/in/DesmondPieri

2 Responses to “9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero”

  1. Hate Networking? Here’s How to “Connect Without Networking” | Change Agent Says:

    […] « 9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero […]

  2. Workbar Gig Finished; Perfect Example of when a Founding CEO should hire an Interim COO | Change Agent Says:

    […] Whether interim or long term, it is important that the skills of a COO complement those of the CEO, as detailed in 9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero.. […]

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