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This is how you hire your first CEO

For many entrepreneurs, taking on the role of leader within their own companies comes naturally. After all, you were the one who took a seedling idea, nurtured it, invested in it and watched it grow into something substantial. Because you have a specific vision for your organization, it's logical that you would spearhead efforts to bring that to fruition.

However, not all entrepreneurs and business owners are cut out for the role of Chief Executive Officer even within their own companies. Whether you're simply more comfortable handling the creative side of your brand, or your personal attachments to the business are hindering your ability to let it grow, you may be searching to bring in someone who can take the reins. Hiring your first CEO can be a delicate process, however, as you're searching for the perfectly qualified candidate who exhibits as much passion and motivation as yourself. Thinking about passing the torch? Use these tips to make a major addition to your organization.

Know when the time is right 
Before you start examining potential candidates, you must first decide whether it's the right moment in your business' life to introduce a CEO. According to Inc. magazine, there are a few tell-tale signs that business owners should watch out for. 

"If you don't like crunching numbers, hire a CEO."

The source noted that entrepreneurs who are uncomfortable crunching numbers should outsource the position of CEO, and fast. Hard financial figures are not only essential from an internal perspective, but they are necessary for gaining the confidence, trust and checks of investors. Many startup owners will also admit that, while they believe they can create $10 million businesses, they require an extra set of hands to leverage their brands into $100 million businesses.

Additionally, you should bring in a CEO if your interests are geared toward creation and innovation efforts as opposed to day-to-day business responsibilities. Getting a professional to take control of the latter duty will free you up to focus on the former. For many entrepreneurs, this is the perfect situation, as they're more invested in fostering new ideas than company operations. 

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, described his decision to onboard a CEO as one of self-reflection. He could see the company's potential, and knew his strengths alone wouldn't be enough to bolster every facet of the organization. He knew that getting assistance from someone with experience in growing successful companies would end up being invaluable. 

The right CEO can take your company to the next level.The right CEO can take your company to the next level.

How to start the process
Once you've done some soul-searching and decided you'd rather work on product development or design than be the CEO, it's time to start the journey of finding that perfect candidate. As a business owner you already know that securing the best employees can be extremely challenging, so you might be overwhelmed at the thought of installing a company leader. 

"Use online resources to find potential candidates."

One option for finding the right match is to employ the services of an executive search firm. These recruitment organizations specialize in upper-level management, so they already know far more than you about what qualities the perfect CEO possesses. You can also network through other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some leads on potential candidates. And of course, business professionals in this digital age can always benefit from the Internet. Reputable career sites like LinkedIn can link you up with the best and brightest, and you can browse infinite profiles to gain knowledge on who is out there. The Internet is also great for finding candidates who may live extremely far away but would be willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

The Harvard Business Review noted that, once you assemble a few promising candidates, you should create a streamlined evaluation process with which to vet them. The source recommended making the system encompass both the organization's requirements and the candidate's performance and qualifications. Some key points to evaluate include: 

  • Team building skills
  • Focus on ethics and integrity
  • Shareholder return
  • Execution 
  • Ability to work the boardroom
  • Personal gravitas. 

In addition to the qualities, Entrepreneur magazine recommended choosing someone whose previous places of employment you'd like to emulate. Select a candidate with in-depth experience transforming small businesses into major brand names. 

When you start narrowing down your pool even further, always check with candidate's references, recommended Inc. You should be closely examining how he or she made professional relationships in previous positions. While some candidates might have impressive business accolades, you shouldn't hire anyone who doesn't adhere to social and moral aspects of your company culture. The source explained that candidates who were well-liked by their previous workers can do more for your company than steer it toward the latest business trends. They can raise employee morale, which usually bolsters retention and productivity rates. 

The process of securing the right CEO for your business may take a while, which is why you should start looking right when you decided to restructure. And although it may be time consuming, it's an important procedure that shouldn't be taken lightly. After all, your CEO will have a lot of control over what your company's future will look like. 

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