Q: Dear SaaStr: What Differentiates a “Real” VP?

While the answer may sound obvious, I’m not sure it always is in early-ish stage start-ups.

The role of a VP is to own everything required to hit the goals for a functional area – Sales, Marketing, Product, Engineering, Finance, or Customer Success.

This includes:

  • Recruiting the team. This can be hard.  And many first-time VPs have never done this.  It’s often 20%-30% of the job.
  • Hitting the number. And owning coming up short. No “best efforts”.  True VPs have their own core goal, hit it, and explain why misses happen — and address them.
  • Figuring it out. Not being told what to do. Figuring out how to hit the goals for this month, quarter and year in your department.
  • Evolving & Growing. The job spec will change over the course of each 6–12 months. A lot.
  • Instilling Confidence and Managing Up and Down. Leading the rest of the company to achieve your department goals.

The challenge then becomes, can a “stretch” VP do these 5 things?

If so, it’s a stretch well made. If not, you aren’t hiring a real VP. You’ll end up needing to hire someone else, probably much sooner than you planned.

A related post and a bit more:

The Double-Stretch Hire Rarely Works Out

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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