Should I Consider a Part-time Executive for My Startup?
Startups are in a constant competition for 2 resources — capital and talent. In the early days of building a business, hiring is crucial to the trajectory of your business. Some people may tell you to hire a product team first, or customer success, or marketing team members. There is a blog post or Tweet making the case for different early stage hiring decisions.
What about executives at the early stage? Generally speaking, we think of executives at the early stage as a founder type person that is deeply ingrained in the company DNA. But does it have to be this way? What about a part-time executive to help you get the business to the next level.
We had the chance to interview Amanda Goetz, the part-time CMO at Teal and part-time founder of House of Wise, on the Founders Forward Podcast. As Amanda is living the “part-time executive” life herself, she offered lots of great advice and reasoning for founders that may be evaluating a part-time executive.
As Dave Fano, the CEO of TealHQ, wrote:
“Today I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Amanda as our half-time CMO at Teal. Beyond getting an exceptional executive, we are excited to show that the traditional models of employment need to change. It does not have to be all or nothing, a person can be a committed and meaningful contributor to a company while also pursuing entrepreneurial effort.
We are thrilled to learn from Amanda and support her in every way we can in building House of Wise. As a team we’ve already learned so much from watching how she’s navigated building her brand, being an entrepreneur & team leader.”
Consultant vs. Part-time Executive
Earlier in her career Amanda led a masterclass for Teal and fell in love with their community. At the same time she knew that she was going to be parting ways with The Knot and was debating taking the leap as a full-time founder (with House of Wise).
Amanda approached the CEO of Teal about her love for building brands and that she would love to get Teal to their Series A and help hire her backfill. While most people may think, “oh, just hire a consultant.” Amanda made the case she should be a part-time executive. As she put it herself, “There’s something about being in the trenches and caring so much about not only the product, but the team that’s working day in and day out.. And you can’t get that as a consultant. And I think especially for seed stage companies, you have to be in the research. You have to be in that agile moment of are we this? Are we this? Let’s like pressure test this. I love the zero to one.”
This allowed Amanda to be invested in the team and culture at Teal over a consultant that may be viewing things from the outside.
Be Clear From the Start
When approaching a part-time executive you have to be extremely clear about what you are looking for. As Amanda put it, “If you need somebody to be managing social everyday, writing content, hitting your SEO content goals, that is not a part-time executive.” You need to be transparent during the hiring process and let them see under the hood of the business so they know where they can help to get the business to the next level. Which brings us to the next point. A part-time executive is someone that should challenge you:
A Sparring Partner
At the seed and early stage, an executive is someone that can set you up for success in the future. They will be there to test strategy, acquisition models, etc. and ultimately help you set up your organization and structure so you are ready to go in the future.
As Amanda put it, “What you’re getting from a seasoned executive is someone to spar with, to have those really meaty strategy conversations with to challenge you.”
If done correctly, a part-time executive can be an incredibly valuable position early in your company’s lifecycle. While it may not be a great fit for every business there are certainly businesses and individuals that can make it work. To learn more about Amanda Goetz and her journey from the wedding world to the CBD and part-time executive world, give her episode a listen here.