Do startups really need a CEO
Startup CEO roles and responsibilities
Being a startup CEO is the most demanding and mentally demanding job I've ever had. The decisions you make not only affect the future of your company, but also the future of the people who trust you to make the right decisions for the company they work for.
It's extremely demanding. It never stops ... and it's also the most exciting experience of my professional life. These are the tasks and responsibilities of a startup CEO.
BTW - this is part of a new course on starting a business - check out this link for more information.
Here is some background information in case you don't know me: Our company Slidebean is a web presentation platform that is much more efficient than PowerPoint. We have over 600,000 registrations from around the world, over $ 1MM in annual sales, and growing rapidly. We are an American company with a team of over 20 employees in New York City and in San Jose, Costa Rica, which is where I am originally from.
I'm the CEO and one of three founders - and everything in these videos comes from my own experience running this, let's call it successful company, and a previous one that went bankrupt.
What you need to be a good startup CEO
As a startup CEO you need creativity, knowledge of people, numerical skills, patience, determination ... but above all, I think the most important skill a founder needs is the ability to learn and adapt quickly.
You will need to do a bit of everything in your company, especially in the early stages - from technical tasks like setting up an email to forward your domain to understanding the labor laws in your city, state, and country. As your business grows, you can delegate these tasks, but building a team by delegating your tasks is much easier than hiring people to do things you have no idea how to do.
When you know how to do something, you also know how long it should take others to do, which keeps your teams efficient.
However, knowing how to do everything means, well, that you have to learn a little bit about everything. To get back to my background, when I got out of high school I decided to study computer science, which didn't get me anywhere, but gave me some basic programming skills that were incredibly useful as the CEO of a tech company. I understand, at least abstractly, how most of our functions work.
After quitting computer science, I got my bachelor's degree in digital animation, like the people who do this stuff for a living.
I no longer fell in love with this career path and ended up quitting it when I started my first company; However, I have learned to design. Now, I don't consider myself an excellent designer, but I know how things work, I know how long it takes to create them, I can tell good websites from bad websites, and before Slidebean existed, I could do one well without help create looking pitch deck. We'll come back to that later.
So as you can see, I don't have a business background. Still, I know about accounting, financial models, human resources, I live and breathe Excel, I know the legal documentation for startups, I know stocks, loans ... I can't say I'm an expert in these areas, but I do understand them. As a startup CEO, you just have to. You have to learn something new every day, and you have to learn quickly, and no career path can prepare you for it.
Common tasks of a startup CEO
So while this can vary from company to company, I'll break down the tasks I need to do at Slidebean. Again, at the time of writing we are a team of 20 people in 2 countries.
I start with my core responsibilities or those that I feel I can never delegate - and then move on to the roles I already want to pass on to someone else on the team.
Rules for startups CEO
Rule # 1: Don't run out of money.
Rule # 2: Don't run out of money. Balance new hires, budget expansions, and sales projections to spend capital efficiently. I am understating how important this is.
- Define the company roadmap and strategy: from annual to quarterly to monthly plans.
- Connect the tasks of all teams: make sure we're all rowing in the same direction and synchronize feature launches with marketing campaigns and customer training.
- Optimize and facilitate as much as possible so that teams can work more efficiently.
- Chair the board of directors and keep board members and investors informed.
- Create and maintain the corporate culture. Again, this is easier said than done and so much more important than it sounds.
- Keep the team motivated. Our sales information is available to everyone on the team, so they know every day whether they are meeting our expectations or not.
- It is my job to keep everyone calm so that they can reach their full potential.
Dealing with compliance: Understanding legal and tax situations and how the company deals with them.
Specific tasks to be delegated soon
- You will write the scripts for these weekly videos and oversee the content marketing activities that we carry out.
- Approve large product or service purchases.
- Monitor the marketing site (our landing pages) and the strategy for improving it.
- Run some of our new marketing experiments again so that I can understand and then delegate.
- Manage potential partnerships.
- Define salaries and benefit packages for our team based on our company budget.
- Create and track key partnerships and business proposals.
So starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint (not my quote, by the way). If you are considering starting a business, you need to prepare for what is to come.
Top 3 priorities
- Don't start a business for the sake of starting a business: I see a lot of entrepreneurs who just "wanted to start a business" and sat down to come up with an idea. That is the wrong approach.
- In most cases, your startup idea comes from your own experience: a unique insight into the industry that you have learned through your work, an extraordinary talent that you have acquired, or a business opportunity that you can monetize with your skills can.
- Uncertainty: Be prepared that you don't know where your business is headed. For the first few months or even years you will have a limited view of your future, so live in the moment.
- Most startups fail, which is a sad but very real statistic, so even if your idea is great, be mentally and financially prepared to deal with failure. Don't quit your day job until you are ready and know when you can get back into a day job.
- Long working hours: As the founder-CEO, you work 100% of the time on your company. Your brain will always be on your business and that is incredibly stressful. Even vacation is hard to enjoy when people's lives depend on your choices.
I can talk about drawing boundaries and eliminating personal time all day, but the truth is that as a founder, vacation and vacation don't mean what they used to mean when you were an employee. Your company is part of you; Point. So prepare for the marathon of your life.
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