A startup team needs soft skills to truly thrive. What's also essential is a shared entrepreneurial passion and strategic vision to push a startup through the valley of death and into hockey stick growth. As we are creating roles on the LiveTheLifeTV Discord Channel, it is useful to understand roles in the context of personalities, rather than job positions. Right now we kickstart with these five roles:
DREAMER / VISIONARY / DOER / HUSTLER / HACKER
#1 The Dreamer: Often the chief executive officer (CEO). They are the people whose passion and vision can lead the project, either because they started it – or because they are absolutely the right person for it. They are often the startup founders.
#2 The Visionary: business vision is just as important as company vision, and the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the chief product officer (CPO). Their role is to inspire team members based on the CEO’s dream, making goals a reality.
#3 The Doer: a role often taken on by the chief technical officer (CTO). It’s their job to understand and meet technical challenges, by hiring the right startup team and making them all work harmoniously on set targets and goals.
#4 The Hustler: this is what chief sales officers (CSO) are often called. Hustling is synonymous here with networking, selling, and generally driving the product forward through usage.
#5 Chief Growth Hacker: (CGH) a strategic thinker who is both analytical and creative. This person understands marketing and how to create traction by understanding what users want and how to give it to them. Tell us where you fit in, and if you feel these additional roles below should be added.
#6 Developer - builder (DEV) A developer's job role in a startup is all about being curious with code, and a willingness to push boundaries to create a killer product. In the super early stages of a startup, the CTO might be responsible for the bulk of a product's coding. But as the company grows, bringing in developers is unavoidable. A bulk of a developer's time will be spent designing, coding, testing, and debugging software. They will also have to push to complete code developments so that products and features can be released to customers on time. You'll be working in Solidity building decentralized apps (DAPPS). Building effective and secure interfaces is critical to the dapp's success. We are looking to bring on front-end developers with experience in UX/UI design.
Core responsibilities of a startup Developer:
- Code, design, test, and debug software
- Review current systems
- Work closely with the rest of the startup team including CTO, designers, and product manager to keep the product in line with the company's strategy
- Create and present ideas for improvements to software and systems (and include cost proposals with them)
- Testing products and updates before they go live
- Writing and preparing training manuals for customers
- Maintaining and monitoring systems when products go live to minimize disruptions
At a later stage we will add CSM + CMO + CFO on Discord
CEO - (Dreamer)
The chief executive officer (CEO) of a startup is often referred to as the visionary. The leader of the pack. The decision maker. Their talent lies in dreaming big and being passionate about what the company could achieve in the future. But that doesn't mean a CEO is paid more than the rest of the team, and they don't hold more power. They need to be constantly looking for opportunities for their product in the market, their customers, and find it a place in their chosen industry. So finding a pain point (and fixing it) is a crucial part of a CEOs job. A startup, especially in its early stages, can't afford to hire consultants and specialists to help make their vision become a reality. That's why a CEO needs to be a jack of all trades. They need to be good at wearing several hats and solving a lot of different problems. Once they fix a problem or tick an item off a to-do-list, CEOs are always asking, what's next? There's no room for the phrase "that's not my job" in the CEO role. Instead, they're always thinking strategically about what they can do to push the company forward. And last but not least, they're a leader. A good CEO is constantly questioning whether the right people are in the right places.
Core responsibilities of a startup CEO:
- Setting strategy and direction
- Creating, living and breathing the startup's culture, values, and behavior
- Hiring and leading the company's executive team
- Implementing short and long term plans
- Making important managerial and operational decisions
- Focusing on the needs of everybody from investors to employees, customers, and the board of directors
Product - CPO (Visionary)
A Product Manager lives and breathes the product a startup is creating. They're in charge of directing who the product will be sold to and how it will be positioned to buyers. In simple terms, it's their job to show a startup's target audience that the product is valuable. In a startup's early days, a product director will make sure the product is market ready and more importantly, that there's a market need for it. They act as a bridge between the product and the customer, and develop non-technical aspects around the product like user personas and pricing. A product manager must also help the startup founders with strategy, along with ideation and features. Their role is to communicate to their product team the value of the product, as well as its intent, so the team is prepared for when the product is released. When things ramp up, the product manager will build a roadmap and prioritize what needs to get done to achieve the initiatives and strategic goals behind the product itself. As for the product's features, the product manager will set the requirements for each feature and explore how they will benefit the user's experience. This stage requires the product manager and the tech team to work together to make sure the backend of a product translates into a better experience for their customers. Otherwise, it will be a wasted effort for both teams.
Core responsibilities of a startup Product Manager:
- Know and predict what a customer needs through research
- Build product marketing objectives and strategies
- Create product lines and test ideas for market viability
- Determine a product pricing strategy based on production costs, market demand and research
- Create sales forecasts for each product and analyze them
- Manage the company's product team: planning, meetings, monitoring results, and organizing training
CTO - Innovator + Doer
The role of a chief technology officer (CTO) isn't only about coding and development. A startup CTO is a CEOs right hand and helps them fine-tune strategy, tactics, and business goals to push the company forward. In the first stages of the startup, the CTO will be hands-on in the IT/development side of the company, helping to invent the product before the company progresses out of its early-stages. Let's address the elephant in the room. Wouldn't a CTO just be in charge of tech at a startup? Well, yes and no. While a CTO needs to lead the startup's engineering team, it's also their job to also focus on what the customer wants from the end product, and use that to increase the company's revenue. In the early stages of a startup, a CTO must be willing to pull up their sleeves and do some heavy lifting to get a product or service off the ground. This means juggling different roles and being a master of all things when it comes to tech, including coding.
Core responsibilities of a startup CTO:
- In the early stages, coding and developing the company's product
- Developing and fine-tuning the startup's strategy for using tech resources
- Making sure the tech team is hitting deadlines, and using their time productively and efficiently
- Focusing on ways the backend team can increase product revenue
- Developing and implementing product infrastructure
Sales (CSO) - rainmaker
At a startup, the VP of sales doesn't have the luxury of case studies or customer success stores to lean on when they're prospecting. Instead, they need to convince prospects to take a gamble on an untested product, an unknown company… and hope it pays off. They need to be focused on closing as many deals as possible, and do whatever it takes to make it happen, so the company has a chance at surviving. So hiring a sales role in the early stages of a startup means they need to have a ton of soft skills. They need to convince a prospect to take a chance, and this requires not only confidence and persistence, but also a deep understanding of the startup, its mission, and its culture.
Core responsibilities of a startup VP of Sales:
- Prospecting and closing sales
- Creating and defining a sales strategy, process and tactics
- Recruiting, training and managing sales reps
- Advising sales reps on their current deals and helping them problem solve
Success (CSM) - customer champion
A startup's success relies on keeping customers happy (and retaining their business), especially in its early stages. That's where a Customer Success Manager (CSM) comes into play. A CSM is responsible for making sure customers understand the value of their product, as well as making sure they have an unforgettable experience with the company's product. In the early stages of a startup, it's unlikely the company will have funds to bring on customer support staff. So it's not unheard of for CSMs to spend 50% of their time answering customer support tickets. But where a CSM plays a crucial role is creating an experience with a customer that could trigger word-of-mouth referrals—the bread and butter of a startup's success. Beyond making customers happy, a CSM will also build out internal processes and workflows to speed up customer support to make their job easier. Once a CSM creates processes and onboarding workflows for new customers, it's easier to cut down on a customer's time to value. And as the startup gains momentum, a CSM will also create workflows between them and the sales team to ensure a new customer has a smooth handover after they purchase a product.
Core responsibilities of a startup CSM:
- Give customers an experience beyond their expectations to create brand advocates and encourage word-of-mouth referrals
- Build workflows and processes internally between sales and marketing teams to cut down onboarding times for new customers
- Help customers see value in your product quickly by managing product implementation and onboarding
- Generate revenue by encouraging renewals, cross-sells, upsells, and expansions
- Relay any suggestions from customer feedback to internal departments
CMO - marketer
In a startup, the importance of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is often overlooked, which can be a massive mistake for a company down the line. A CMO is responsible for marketing and driving demand and growth of a company's product, and they're held accountable for their successes (and failures). They are responsible for creating and building the startup's customer base, bringing in revenue, and most importantly, making the company profitable. If that's not enough responsibility, in early stage startups, the CMO is also the driving force behind engagement, retention, creative and brand strategies, along with all marketing communications.
Core responsibilities of a startup CMO:
- User acquisition, lead generation, and retention/engagement
- All marketing communications
- Brand positioning/identity
- Research and analytics
- Product marketing and positioning
CFO - money manager
The role of a CFO goes well beyond just counting cash. They're also responsible for the company's growth, forming new relationships with companies, and creating financial processes and reporting requirements that can be used when the company scales. The right CFO can take a deep dive into a startup's financial capabilities. They help a startup to optimize the cash they already have, and build a plan for when the company is ready to scale. It's normal for startups just to hire an accountant when they're getting their bearings, and a CEO will likely have a firm grasp of the company's profit and loss. But without a CFO, it's hard for a startup to influence the rest of the board (especially if they have investors) without metrics and results. A CFO holds a startup accountable with figures. If too much money is being spent in a certain area, or it's not being utilized correctly, the CFO can highlight it and come up with a solution.
Core responsibilities of a startup CFO:
- Preparing budgets
- Monitoring expenditures, costs, and P&L
- Reviewing, analyzing, and reporting on the company's financial data and performance
- Taking control of the startup's financial planning and risks associated with future goals