Startup founders can have such a great time launching a business together. It can sometimes be tricky, however, if you end up stepping on each other’s toes all the time. Dissolving the partnership and going off on your own is not the only answer to this problem. It may not even be the best answer that works for your good or the good of the business. Working together to divide up different roles will help startup founders to each focus on their own areas and avoid undue conflicts. Dividing up tasks also gives you the great benefit of taking on the roles for which you are best suited.

Common Roles of Startup Founders

There are only a few basic roles that startup founders need to worry about:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or President
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
  • Chief Security Officer (CSO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO) – sometimes also taking on the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

These basic roles embody a lot of smaller roles, however, that all come together to keep the business running. It takes a lot of time and energy to juggle everything involved. Startup founders must be self-motivated to keep up with it all.

The best motivation comes from being happy and comfortable in a role. Below are some more specific roles under these hats that startup founders commonly must take on. You can see below them the factors that can help you decide on who is best for each one. In these roles that aptly fit your complementary skills, you can best apply your independent thought and bring it to a fulfilling conclusion.

Licenses and Other Paperwork

Applying for business permits and licenses and processing other required documentation is a must for any business. This role involves visiting offices, meeting with lawyers, and filling up forms.

A keen eye and organizational skills mark the person who is best suited for this role. Patience is a virtue that will also serve well the one who takes on this job.

Accounting and Finance

The financial lead is responsible for making sure that the business is and remains viable and profitable. This includes managing the cash flow to ensure that the business doesn’t burn through funds before the targeted growth is achieved.

The best man for this role is the one who has a mind for numbers. Analytical thinking goes along with this, which allows this person to keep close watch of trends and cashflow. The ability to source new or redistribute existing budgets as needed is also an essential skill in this role.

Marketing

This role entails creating plans for identifying and reaching potential customers. For all businesses, social media and website marketing are essential in today’s market. Social avenues involve reaching out to potential clients and existing clients via less formal channels. Website marketing involves communicating the brand to the general public.

This person should have good knowledge of marketing. Social media also requires a person who is adept at reading people and building rapport. A genuine interest in people is a valuable asset in this role. At this stage, it is important to make a good impression and generate interest. The person who handles this doesn’t have to be a relationship genius, but should have some technical skills. At least an understanding of the workings of social media, websites and internet marketing in general is imperative. Creative skills are also needed to lead the team in creating compelling content about the product or service.

Enjoying the content so far? I'd love for you to join my email list...

I only send weekly, inspiring emails every Monday. I teach best practices I'm learning and using to build FreeeUp, Portlight, and this site. 

Customer Service

The customer service lead takes responsibility for all efforts to provide a stellar experience for the consumer. This extends from pre-sales to providing customer support. It intersects with marketing in areas that focus on customer interactions but stays away from the technical aspects or applied processes.

The best person for this job is the one who has the best relational and communication skills. He will use these strengths to relate to customers to build loyalty and ensure smooth conflict resolution. This person will usually work in conjunction with the more creative personality when creating the technical tools for use in the field.

Operations

Operations involves all the systems and processes that keep a business running. The role covers the internal workings of the business including oversight of all department functions. Administrative tasks such as facility maintenance and documentation can also fall under this role.

Attention to detail and superior problem-solving skills mark the ideal operational manager. Refined social skills are not required, although an understanding of how people relate in their roles is important in creating the systems and processes that will guide them. Strong organizational skills and a keen eye are essential for the administrative aspects of this role.

Sales

Sales involves reaching out to potential clients to offer products or services and bringing the deal home. It intersects with the customer service role where efforts are made to nurture and leverage satisfied clients.

This is where the relationship genius comes in. This person has to have a great personality and a knack for sharing his own passion for the business. He is your basic people-person who is great at talking to people.

HR and Team Management

The team manager is responsible for making sure that the team functions as a unified whole. He takes on the task of identifying roles that need to be filled and discovering new talent for them.

Likes the salesman who has great communication skills, the team manager should be able to relate to the team and provide motivation. In addition, this person should be good at giving guidance and troubleshooting relational issues. For human resources, he will use his people skills to vet applicants and get them seamlessly integrated into the team.

New Ideas

The visionary is the one who keeps the flame of the business alive. He is the dreamer who sees all the places that the business can go. He is at the core of all efforts to captivate team members and customers alike. He guards the company vision and ensures that it is faithfully carried out in all new initiatives.

The most passionate founder is best suited for this role. He will spread his eagerness and appetite for growth throughout the organization. This person is the one who naturally leads by motivating and energizing the organization.

Creating Solutions

This role is centered on innovation within the parameters of the functioning business. It includes managing the technologies that are required to build the product or service. This role is responsible for identifying new ways to leverage existing technology and information to create and improve on the business’s market advantage and business model.

The best person for this job is the technically adept creative. Either research skills or an interest in keeping abreast of the latest and greatest is important here. This person will also have the analytical skills that allow him to recognize opportunity and pinpoint the solutions that are best applied for sustainability and growth.

Other Roles

Depending on what your business is all about, you could have a few other roles that the startup founders need to fill. A few of these could include:

  • Strategic partnerships – ties with third parties and/or loyal clients to boost recognition and expand revenue streams
  • Affiliate marketing – developing contacts to increase visibility and sales
  • Product distribution – research and execution to broaden sales channels
  • Monetization – leveraging proprietary technologies or systems to expand revenue streams

Based on the personality types and skill sets above, startup founders can work together to decide who would work best in each of these roles.

Why Divvying Up Works Best

When you’re starting a business all on your own, you can call all the shots for sure, but it can be lonesome. If you can avoid the worry of startup founders clashing, it can be a more enjoyable experience. Working with a partner can be so rewarding. This is particularly true when you are each in separate roles where you are especially skilled and feel comfortable. Doing what you do best and having a partner who is doing the same is so fulfilling.

Dividing up roles can even up the playing field. A lot of the pressure is off when you know that the different aspects of your business are entrusted to the best set of hands. You will second-guess each other less, which will lead to increased productivity and decreased relationship stress. You each will feel more empowered to take action steps within your roles because you are the best man for the job. The business processes will flow more smoothly, leaving both time and energy to invest in growth.

When you have a co-founder, running the business becomes easier. You have two startup founders with two perspectives that can create a much more honest and clearer picture of things. You are free to manage your designated area, and free to take a look from the outside, so to speak. When you are not so intimately involved in a project, you can come in and give a fresh opinion. This is a great benefit that allows you to give and get trusted and untainted feedback about your plans.

Working together as startup founders doesn’t have to mean working on each and every single decision together. It’s not working at all if you end up in a stale mate at every turn. You can both work strong and hard at what you do best and this way bring up the business together. Now go, divide and conquer!