By Verne Harnish
FORTUNE -- Your deputy is the one position at your company that you shouldn't head hunt. It's best to bring in someone you've worked with successfully in the past, so you can hit the ground running from day one.
Don't limit your list to past colleagues. They can be clients, suppliers, family members, and childhood buddies. When I founded the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (now EO), my right hand was a former student from an adjunct teaching gig who had impressed me. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were poker-playing buddies in college, long before Ballmer became CEO at Microsoft (MSFT).
What should you look for in this person? Remember that in today's business environment, you've got to stay market-focused to win. For your No. 2, you need someone who's good at putting out fires and executing your best ideas. Otherwise, you'll be living the nightmare many entrepreneurs face: Doing everything yourself, because there's no one around you who can. You also need someone who can be a shock absorber between your grandiose ideas and your team -- or, like many entrepreneurs, you'll drive your people crazy.
Once you have an idea of who's available among your top candidates, look for short-term opportunities to collaborate. Maybe there's a board of advisers position open at your company -- Eric Schmidt served on Google's (GOOG) board of directors before he became CEO -- or a paid consulting gig. This will give you a feel for how well you will work together in your current company. You need to know you can fight with this person without resorting to fisticuffs.
When you feel like you've found the right person, even if you know each other well, do a detailed, formal interview, where you use an objective scoring system to evaluate candidates. Ask what they liked about their past positions and bosses. I once got very close to hiring a highly qualified right hand I had known for many years until I did an interview like this and realized that the common thread among the past managers she'd loved was their availability to mentor her. I wasn't going to be available to do that much, because I travel a lot, so I decided it wasn't a good fit.
It can take time to find the right deputy, but it's worth it. Entrepreneurial companies tend to do better when they are team-led, as Harvard Professor Noam Wasserman discusses in The Founder's Dilemmas. Not every entrepreneur is lucky enough to find the perfect co-founders, but if you later pick an amazing No. 2, you'll be able to reap many of the same rewards.
Some say investors are bidding up the stock because they're sure it's only a matter of time before electric vehicles catch on, like smartphones. Others hold that the tiny car company will be gobbled up by a big automaker.Nov 21, 2013 2:42 PM ET
The "rank and yank" system that Jack Welch popularized results in workers being pitted against their peers to avoid being labeled as losers. That's not the kind of approach that encourages teamwork.Nov 18, 2013 5:00 AM ET
On November 19, at the tech giant's annual meeting, shareholders will have a chance to ask the board about its CEO succession process. Here's what they should ask.Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of The Value Alliance - Nov 15, 2013 12:30 PM ET
The software giant says it's getting more touchy-feely, while the web portal is amping up the competitive environment for employees. It's the latest chapter in an ongoing debate about the best way to run a business.
By Jennifer Reingold, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Let the great management debate commence. Or should I say, continue.
By now, you've probably read that Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) -- two tech giants of the '90s MORENov 14, 2013 2:22 PM ET
The sources of corporate failure are often prosaic and avoidable. Nokia's experience is a case in point.May 8, 2013 12:18 PM ET
Director Stewart Hendler discusses the challenges and bright spots of bringing sci-fi production values to a web-sized screen.
FORTUNE – Many of us are watching more videos online these days, but how do you pack all the gore and sexy graphics of a sci-fi action film onto a web-sized screen?
That is director Stewart Hendler's charge. He started out behind the camera, shooting horror flicks -- he directed 2009 slasher "Sorority Row," MOREShelley DuBois, writer-reporter - Oct 12, 2012 1:50 PM ET
His work concerns matters of life and death. Besides driving crime rates down, he has to battle terrorists. As New York City's police commissioner he has succeeded well enough that some powerful people are urging him to run for mayor.
By David Whitford, editor-at-large
FORTUNE -- "I'm a rookie," Ray Kelly begins.
New York City's top cop is sitting in a back room at the Highliner on 10th Avenue and 22nd Street, MOREOct 12, 2012 5:00 AM ET
CEOs aren't the only ones announcing their views on same-sex marriage. Some Fortune 500 companies are getting involved as well. By Ben SchenkelAug 8, 2012 10:41 AM ET
To attract the kind of people they need, large organizations like Microsoft and KPMG are flipping the idea of mentoring on its head.
By Ethan Rouen
FORTUNE -- Hiring may be easier when unemployment rates hover near double digits, but super talented candidates with years of experience will hardly ever hurt for a job.
When Microsoft (MSFT) recently was looking to snag 300 senior managers from the competition, the company tried a different MOREApr 19, 2012 9:30 AM ET
|Fast food worker: Protest didn't cost me pay|
|2 million Facebook, Gmail and Twitter passwords stolen in massive hack|
|Job growth drives mortgage rate jump|
|GM to discontinue Chevrolet brand in Europe|
|Ron Paul: Bitcoin could 'destroy the dollar'|