“I couldn’t have done it without my team.” How many times have you heard that? Well, it’s the truth. Building a startup is about so much more than an idea. Ultimately, success will depend mainly on the people you hire. 

Once you have determined the structure of your overall organization, you will need to establish key roles and responsibilities. Of course, those will change depending on which structure you choose, but most of these roles will apply to your company in one way or the other.

Executive Roles

Whatever structure you choose, someone will have to be at the top — these are your executives.

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/President: You — or your co-founder — will likely take on this role, which accepts full responsibility for the business. Your CEO will be responsible for long-term planning, strategy, and business growth.
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO): While you’re focused on strategy, this role will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations. The COO will put your plan into practice, ensure teams have everything they need to succeed, and generally oversee business operations.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Money is essential to every business, but that’s especially true for startups with tight budgets. This CFO is responsible for money management — which includes everything from securing investments to budgeting and managing cash flow.
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): When it comes time to create your brand vision and spread the word about your burgeoning business, you will need a CMO. This person is responsible for building your marketing strategy. From brand development to campaign strategy, the CMO and their team will bring your product to the masses.
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Technology enables your organization, and it’s up to your CTO to make sure your team has the latest tools to allow it to do its best work. This role may be more integral to a late-stage startup.

Managerial Roles

If you have selected an organizational structure that allows for middle management roles, you will need to decide which positions your company will employ. These people will act as the go-betweens — connecting C-suite executives with workers.

Here is a list of managerial roles to consider: 

  • Product managers are responsible for product development, customer analysis, product purchasing, and establishing effective distribution lines.
  • Purchasing managers are responsible for purchasing stock, maintaining relationships with suppliers, and implementing pricing strategies.
  • Project managers liaise between departments, ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget.
  • Finance managers keep track of accounts and bookkeepers and accurately report profit and loss.
  • Marketing managers are responsible for overseeing marketing campaigns and facilitating internal and external communication strategies.
  • Office managers provide administrative support.
  • Human resources managers oversee internal policies, acquire the right talent, and adhere to all applicable regulations.
  • Quality control managers ensure production is compliant with all regulations and that your product meets quality standards.

Operational Roles

The people who get the job done, and keep the company moving, are the people in operational roles. From analysts to customer service representatives, your company is likely to need some combination of these roles: 

  • Accountants
  • Administrative assistants
  • Business and data analysts
  • Customer service representatives
  • HR assistants
  • Information technologists
  • Marketing assistants
  • Sales representatives

Every startup is competing for the best talent, and the winners get creative about attracting top performers.

Whether it’s an Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP), work-from-home benefits, bonuses, or unlimited PTO, it’s essential to show you value your employees and their contribution to the company’s success. 

The article is also published on LinkedIn.


Lomit is a marketing and growth leader with experience scaling hyper-growth startups like Tynker, Roku, TrustedID, Texture, and IMVU. He is also a renowned public speaker, advisor, Forbes and HackerNoon contributor, and author of "Lean AI," part of the bestselling "The Lean Startup" series by Eric Ries.