Does My Startup (Small/Medium Sized Business) Need a CIO/ CTO? |

The most important task for a Startup or Small/ Medium sized business is the preservation of Capital. It can make or break the business, where these organizations must be sure to hire individuals, who understand this premise.

Many Startups often need technology expertise, especially, in this technological day and age. They, also, may require a CIO/CTO to procure Venture Capital. However, all too often, many Startups, Small and Medium Businesses bestow this title on the first Engineer in the organization, which can present a number of problems.

The CIO/ CTO role is much more than just a title. The CIO/CTO has a complicated job, which requires an individual very astute with all of the following:
• budgeting
• hiring
• risk analysis
• forecasting
• vendor management
• project management
• strategic planning
• operations
• personnel management
• outsourcing
• insourcing
• what technologies are trends
• what technologies add true business value
• software development
• networking and infrastructure

These are just a few duties that the CIO/ CTO must perform, which unfortunately, most engineers and technicians have not been exposed. However, there is one skill that is vital for a startup that requires this role: Knowing what technology is necessary and what technology does not offer immediate business.

Most businesses that have a CIO/ CTO have revenues in place to support, not only the CIO/CTO role, but a complete IT department of 12 or more individuals with budgets in the ball park of 3M+ a year. This is typical for established businesses.

All too often, many startups believe this is one of the first positions that they should fill, which can be very costly. It is costly to fill this role in many ways. If a startup fills this role with a true CIO/CTO with 10+ years of technology experience with 5+ years of upper management experience, there could be a very high price tag that could exhaust vital cash reserves for the business. Putting an individual without the proper tools for this role could be more costly than an experienced CIO/CTO. Mistakes, poor hiring decisions, budgeting mishaps and spending on unnecessary “fad” technologies that do not offer immediate business value could exhaust capital faster than hiring a seasoned professional. Also, if the startup is pursuing Venture Capital (VC’s), the first place VC’s look, besides profits, is the experience held by the Executive Team. Nothing is a bigger “Red Flag” to a VC than staff holding Executive roles without former experience in Upper Management.

So, does this mean that startups or small/medium-sized businesses not require a CIO/CTO? Not necessarily. They do need a CIO/CTO-like individual with experience in budgeting, hiring and all those responsibilities listed earlier in this article. Whether it is a part-time CIO/CTO, Program Manager, or Project Manager; there are many, many skills that escape the average IT professional that Startups, Small and Medium sized businesses require to stay afloat.

In the end, I always recommend that businesses with limited staff or budgets either higher a part-time CIO/CTO or an individuals possessing the skillset of the CIO/CTO to render the best chance for success.

Tips to Help Improve Your Family Business |

If you operate a family business, you want to make sure that it is running smoothly at all times. There are numerous things that must be considered in this regard to ensure that it takes place properly. In that way, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of owning a family business, while at the same time, ensuring that it is successful. Here are a few tips that can help to push you in the right direction that can be incorporated into almost any small business.

One of the most important things for you to consider when it comes to operating a family business is to keep the lines of communication open. This can be difficult in a family business, as you are more comfortable with each other and communication may sometimes be a problem. If necessary, block out a certain amount of time every week or perhaps every day to have a small meeting that will help you to see if there are any problems occurring in the business. Be sure to keep these meetings businesslike and avoid the tendency that you may have to make it personal.

Another important thing for you to consider is that everything must be documented properly. There can be problems between family members when there are any questions as to what was agreed on at some time in the past. This is a mistake that is often a problem for family businesses, as they feel as if the handshake is going to be enough. Be clear on what is necessary when starting your business and anytime anything has been discussed, be certain that it is put down in writing. Most of us would never consider entering a business relationship with a stranger without having to down in writing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything will be fine since you are operating a business with a family member.

How frequently do you review your business? This is something that can be done with the use of software, regardless of whether your business is large or small. Make sure that you choose software which has an easy-to-understand business dashboard and uses ad hoc reporting. In doing so, you will be able to input all the data from your business and see where there are any problems that may be corrected. It also gives you the opportunity to see the good points of your business so that you can expand on those points to increase your bottom line.

Finally, make sure that any problems that occur within your business are taken care of equally across the board. If a family member should happen to do something wrong in the business, it would be a mistake to allow it to slide. Not only does it give them the impression that they are able to do it without any problems, it can also cause problems with other employees that are not family members. Your family and everyone else that works for your business needs to be accountable for the things that they do. And, it will allow your business to run much more smoothly if you treat it this way.