Oct 26 2023

When All You’re Holding is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

One of the things I love about the business we’re building at Bolster is that we’re creating a whole new way for companies to access executive talent. It’s not just that we do full-time searches better, faster, and cheaper than traditional search firms. It’s that we approach the whole topic differently and with a more flexible mindset that matches the dynamic needs of our startup and growth stage clients.

As I wrote last week in You Don’t Need a CRO, CEOs often come to us thinking they need a full-time executive – usually a CRO or COO. And sometimes they do. If we were an executive search firm, we might agree and sell them the thing that we have to sell, which is full-time searches.

But a full-time senior executive is often the wrong answer to whatever problem the CEO is feeling at the moment. Sometimes it’s that they’re just overwhelmed and need help. Sometimes someone on their team isn’t scaling. There are a lot of other options out there for getting executive-level help, advice, and deliverables without making a full-time hire, for example:

  • Fractional executives who can work as much as half time and as little as a day or two per month, giving you many of the benefits of an experienced executive without all of the cost and risk and equity commitment
  • Project-based executives who can come in and help you with a specific thing you don’t know how to do or don’t have time to do yourself
  • Functional mentors to help level up someone on your team with expertise you may not have yourself
  • Independent directors to help add whatever voice is missing from your leadership team, whether it’s the voice of the customer or an experienced operator in a given function or domain

In the world of startups and growth companies, staffing at the most senior and expensive levels needs to be nuanced. That’s why I’m glad we have a lot of different options to help CEOs out. Because if all we were holding was a hammer, everything would look like a nail.