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6 Ways a Small Business Can Afford a CTO

6 Ways a Small Business Can Afford a CTO

A Chief Technical Officer (CTO) is someone who will make everything work. More and more businesses rely entirely on computerized systems and automation to function. The average entrepreneur starting a new small business has a small technical team, and the CTO is the thought leader. They won’t just repair they’ll innovate, making this an essential role within the company.

What can you do when you’re a small business without any additional room in your budget?

1. Work Over Your Budget Again

It’s easy to assume you automatically can’t afford to add another person to your team. Take a closer look and factor the cost into your current budget. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can find some wiggle space by making cuts and adjustments elsewhere. Sometimes the best way to afford a CTO is to force one into your company.

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2. Outsource the CTO

There are independent consultants acting as CTO’s for multiple small businesses at the same time. To ensure the smooth running of your small business you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have. Outsourcing the issue and paying someone for a couple of days every week may allow you to slip that new member into your team.

You could even bring someone in remotely. For example, you could employ an independent CTO from another country and deal with them remotely.

3. Begin Combining Roles

To start strong in business you need to economize. Sometimes the best way to do this is to combine roles together. Similar roles, such as IT consultant and CTO, can be dually handled by the right candidate. Employing someone to carry out both tasks can be a great way to cover two positions without paying two salaries.

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Beware of combining roles exclusively for the reason of saving money, though. It’s always better to have an expert in one position than an over-stretched worker covering two positions.

4. Going into Debt in the Short-Term

A CTO can be such a valuable part of the company during the new business formation phase. You may discover that the best way to afford one is to go into debt in the short-term. Payable debt is common for small businesses, so should you ever go into debt to afford a CTO?

This all depends on your income plan. How quickly will you be able to generate enough money to cover the new position and how much debt will you be in when you reach that point? You must decide based on your own calculations whether going into short-term debt is the right option for you. If you want to start strong in business you may find that debt is the worst possible option for you.

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5. Don’t Choose the Best CTO on the Market

Small businesses don’t need to have the most qualified CTO. The chances are your internal systems aren’t big enough to warrant a full-time, high-cost CTO. It’s always nice to have the best CTO in the world working for your company, but do you really NEED them? In a lot of cases, their skills are completely wasted on the average new business. Think about searching for someone more affordable. They may have less experience or they may specialize in micro businesses.

6. Wait Until Later

In the first six months, you won’t necessarily have the need for a CTO. You’re establishing your product and working on basic marketing. Too many entrepreneurs attempt to employ a full team from day one. It isn’t the best decision money-wise because you can’t utilize their full potential just yet. Can’t afford a CTO right now? Wait a month or two when you can better utilize them.

You can make room in your budget for a CTO if you try hard enough. But what’s more important is hiring the right person for your business. The ingredients for a perfect start include a robust hiring process, acknowledging your short-term needs, and considering what you can do with each member of your team in the future.

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How and when will you make room in your budget for a CTO?

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Ryan Kh

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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