Having a chief of staff is a game-changer for business if you’re ready to have someone in that role. But being ready doesn’t mean you need to have a boatload of employees, a physical location, be an arm of the government or a corporate entity.

A chief of staff is simply a trusted partner in your business, someone who knows you and your organization intimately. She’s open and honest and will tell you like it is, delivering you the feedback you need to grow.

Practically speaking, a chief of staff looks a lot like an online business manager or project manager. But there’s more to the role than that.

What's a Chief of Staff (and why should I care)? Plus a FREE quiz to see if you're ready for a chief of staff.

Strong Project Management Background

While a chief of staff isn’t a project manager, she should have the ability to break down a big vision into smaller tasks that are then outsourced to other team members. She’s helped you develop your vision, looking at your business from a different perspective to make sure all the pieces are in place (and what you’re looking to do is possible). And she can help you stay organized and moving forward by coordinating all the pieces of your business while ensuring you’re keeping your values and goals in mind.

Your chief of staff is more than just a team member. She is your sounding board and strategic partner.Click To Tweet

Human Resources Tasks

Hiring new team members is difficult, especially when every member of the team plays such an integral role in a small business. Because she’s so intimately involved in your business, a chief of staff can write job descriptions, vet applications and provide a short list of those most qualified to speak to you, the CEO. She knows immediately if applicants are a good fit, both in their personalities and their skillsets. That saves you tons of time and helps to make sure that every new hire is exactly who you need.

Organizational Development and Structure

This is where the business management skills dig in. A chief of staff needs to be able to develop processes, procedures, and systems in your business so every team member is on board and knows their role. Once these systems are in place, she makes sure they’re being used and working as they should. Because your business should run like a well-oiled machine. And when one part breaks down, the other parts have to work that much harder. So when something’s not working, the chief of staff is there to put things back on track.

Ready for a Chief of Staff? Not So Fast!

All this sounds great, right? A strategic partner. Someone to take over some of the administrative tasks. Someone to help you get organized. Someone to lead the team so you can do what you do best. But not every business is ready for a chief of staff.

Your chief of staff shouldn’t be your first hire in your small biz. Find out who you need first!Click To Tweet

Your first hire out of the gate should be a virtual assistant, someone to take over some of the administrative tasks in your business. Then you may need some technical support–someone to help handle the back-end of your website or some of the software you need in your business. Marketing is the next task that you’ll likely want to outsource, which helps to round out your initial team that will help you scale. Depending on your business’s goals, you may need an online business manager or a project manager next.

When you’re ready to scale further, that’s when the chief of staff role comes in. You’ll know you’re ready when you’re looking at adding additional services or revenue streams. And you’ll know that your chief of staff is doing her job when you:

  • Are in the visionary CEO role, with your team carrying out tasks in a trusted way
  • Are no longer the person in your business who has to follow up with each team member
  • Have the time and capacity to focus on the future of your business
  • Get back to the why you got into business in the first place.

You’re no longer held up by the little pieces of your business, making sure all the cogs fit into place. You can demand higher rates, you’re outsourcing more and your confidence skyrockets.

It may be that your business will never be ready for a chief of staff because the vision you have doesn’t fit the needs of that role. And that’s okay.

But how can you be sure? And how do you know if you’re ready for some of the stepping-stone roles? Take my quiz below and find out!