C-Suite Roles Are Not Just for Large Corporations

Your small business needs additional leadership

You have likely realized as a small business owner that you need a team around you to grow your business. Seeing your six-figure, or more, vision come to life requires additional team members to handle all the moving parts. What you may not have considered, or have been avoiding, is that your small business needs additional leadership.

In large corporations, it is called the C-Suite. If you have ever worked for a large company, and even if you have not, you are likely aware of the C-Suite roles who lead the organization. The C-Suite includes executive leadership roles like the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), or any of the other various ‘chiefs’ given the charge of strategic leadership of a function.

The Role of the C-Suite

The responsibility of the C-Suite leaders is to establish strategic direction and objectives, drive strategy execution, and lead their respective teams in carrying out the mission of the company. While the CEO, you, is the strategic leader for the entire company or larger business unit, the success of this position is heavily reliant on the ability to delegate strategic oversight of critical areas of the business.  It’s a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that has worked well for centuries.

Imagine Jeff Bezos overseeing, managing, and executing all the functional strategies and plans, in addition to managing the teams for marketing, sales, operations, finance, human resources, legal, technology, product support, and so on. He would never sleep! Not only that but he would have thousands of employees reporting directly to him. That means he be responsible hiring, onboarding, performance management, and all the systems and processes to go along with it.

You would never expect that of Mr. Bezos, would you? No, you would not because you understand that is too much for one leader to oversee effectively. You also understand, because you have lived it leading your own business that regardless of the size of a company, the leader needs time to be strategic and visionary. Managing all the moving parts steals that time away.

So why do we not see more entrepreneurs, small business CEOs, follow a similar leadership model to million- and billion-dollar companies?

Many entrepreneurs do not mimic corporate organization structures. Why?

The short answer is entrepreneurs do not think their business is big enough for these roles. I have heard it over and over from entrepreneurs who are grossing six figure revenues. They do not see themselves as small business owners and even fewer see themselves as a CEOs. Even when they are managing growth strategies and staff.

“I didn’t think I was ready for that. I thought I had to get more solid,” is what one six-figure business owner told me during a chat. The irony of that statement is that it is difficult to ‘be ready’ if you do not have time to dedicate to what that really means.

“Well don’t you need to be making a lot of money before you can hire those roles.” I heard this one from a newer business owner. My response was ‘it depends’. My logic is that yes you will need a way to fund your investment in additional help. When you reach six figure revenue, more demands are placed on your time which leaves you very little time to increase sales. Hiring key leadership roles takes so much off the small business owner’s plate freeing them to focus on serving more clients or retaining current ones.

This requires the small business CEO to take a deep look at the company’s numbers to determine your capacity breaking point compared to your revenue and what you could afford to pay. (Just a note: This is task for your COO to help you evaluate. The when, the what, and the who.)

Why Your Small Business Needs Additional Leadership

You may still be wondering, why your small business needs more leaders in your organization structure. Many small business owners reach a great deal of success with only themselves leading a team with limited decision-making responsibility and no strategic activities. The challenge comes after you achieve six-figures revenue, and your business continues to grow. Taking on additional clients and team members requires more of your time and brainpower. This can be exhausting on an already constrained business owner. You need other leaders on your team to take the load off you mentally, physically, and strategically.

I am not saying you need a full executive suite working for you, that would be excessive.  However, it is in your best interest to consider bringing key strategic leaders on to your team. If you do not have the capacity and/or expertise to keep up with strategic industry changes for all your business functions, run the business, and manage the team – then your small business needs additional leadership.

Additional Leadership You Need – Regardless of the Title

For small business owners it can be a little unsettling to bring on other leaders. Sometimes it is fear of losing control of a ‘business baby’ that was birthed from a very personal place. Other times the founder simply is not ready to accept turning over decision making in some areas. And of course, there is the whole holding on to profits thing (we will address that in a future article). But many times, we just get hung up on the titles.

Leadership roles sound scary when used in small business. You wonder if your small business is large enough for those roles. You may even be apprehensive about what is required of you from a leadership perspective if those titles are added.

So, for right now, do not focus on titles. If hiring a ‘chief of anything’ makes you cringe, choose a title that makes you comfortable. Director of, Head of, XYZ Manager…they all work! The goal is for you, as the business owner, to get you help strategically executing and managing the inner workings of your business.

Key leadership roles to start with as you consider additional leadership for your small business are someone to lead:

  • Operations and administration
  • Marketing and sales
  • Financial management

Your small business needs additional leadership but where that leadership focus should be applied depends on many factors including your industry, the type of business, revenue and most importantly, where you need the most help and your readiness to turn over the reins.


Looking for additional help defining where your small business needs additional leadership? I can help you evaluate your needs and identify the best role to hire right now. Go to talktokellye.com to schedule your chat with me.