A startup is a work unfit for heart: continued uncertainty, making decisions with little information and the challenge of pursuing a goal that often seems not only closer, but (the damned) It seems to recede. And if you add to this a common endemic shortage of resources, like a task fit only for superheroes. Sorry to be the one to say it, but the job of CEO of a startup is any less glamorous thing and not like what comes out in the Facebook movie, forget the super modern offices, parties and lectures ( eyed leading the blind), that is something that can (or not). Usually their role is more like being the "duct tape" of startup: covers any gaps appear and handles it all together:
That means from buying pizzas for the team to sweep the floor, to meet with investors and, above all, be on the street talking to customers. Of course, in this scenario it is very easy to lose the north and devote your efforts to things that seem terribly important but really are not and of course that means that if we are not working on what is important, we will exhaust our time, money and all energy before reaching the next station.
Have you heard ? A list of tasks it would take weeks to finish job 24 hours a day, poor and feel that the goal is not near. Well sorry to say that this is the day, and our job is to learn to deal with this. So in those moments that we all feel overwhelmed and lost something I go to an article for me at the time it was important: What a CEO does?
A CEO just does 3 things: Define the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicated to those involved. Recruit, hire and retain the best talent for the startup. And it ensures that there is enough money in the till. For me it is one of the best synthesis of which is the role of CEO, and have lots of crumbs and which let me add a fourth:
DEFINE THE VISION AND STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATE
As we have said once, a startup normally does not operate in the 'now' but lives at an intersection between reality and dream, a vision. Because the expectation of "filthy rich" not worth the long days, not having salary or it is low and the current fight, I really do not. What justifies everything is the vision the reason for our existence, what we think is wrong in the world and we will fix it.
And it is not only important to define that vision, we must think of a way to it, a strategy that will lead us there today, without using vision as a way to do what we please without listening to the market. And above all, it is key to communicate. The communication capacity of CEO to all stakeholders is one of its most important activities since it is the external marketing not only, it is love to employees, prospective partners, investors, customers and understand how each understand everything. I think the best way to understand the importance of the vision is to see one of the best TED talks for entrepreneurs - Start at the why of Simon Sinek:
Recruits, hires and retains the best talent
If the vision is destiny and strategy road, the team is the car that will allow us to go that way and reach the best possible way. And first place is key to be able to build the best equipment for your startup (probably one of the toughest challenges - how to get something you can not pay), extremely important at first especially since it will be based on the culture of the startup and set the tone of what is right and what is not, how it works or the level of competition etc. (So you have to be very picky).
But the hardest thing really starts then: how to nurture and retain those people who barely know and transform them into companions of the road, which aligned themselves our vision and fight harder than anyone ? Of course it is there financial compensation, but much more: environment, learning challenges, ability to grow, recognition, development, proximity, enthusiasm for me the basis for that, after all, not ask ourselves nor second change long hours or uncertainty to be anywhere else.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY IN THE BOX
Self explanatory but not simple at all, because no one has taught us how to do it, especially if the CEO does not have a business profile. No, it is not only "raise dough". The best investors are your customers as equity not only stay but also to value what you do help you to validate the business model, pure gold. So the first point is to define the way income and be able to cross it, and keep an eye on the vision and the other on the box (not the billing, eye - startup commands in the box).
But, it's also about investment: half a startup takes about six months to get investment for your project which is a real tragedy: 6 months distraction business, endless meetings and many "no". A particularly absurd process because much of that time is spent in seeking investors for startups that are often not appropriate or going to forums and presentations that make no sense (which from the startup of which I am CEO, we Startupxplore trying to change allowing any startup can find investors who invest in your industry and in your area).
He SAYS "NO" AND SELLS - All Time
It really is a corollary of the above, because unfortunately many people think that this is going to do many things, incorporate many features to our product and grow much from the first moment, when in fact it is just the opposite: we minimization, to as simple as possible, and that means removing many things, focus on value and not only in the growth and say many times NO. Because the key is actually the execution that leads to that vision, but a good performance. You know:
Vision without execution is HALLUCINATION
And certainly, the CEO must sell daily. To all the world. Sell equipment, sell the vision, but mostly sell the business. And make no mistake, although the word "sell" conjure in your mind the image of used car salesman, it is not at all that. Selling is hitting the market, the real world, confronting the increase of your startup with the real needs of customers and get their validation (and customers vote with the wallet) and learn along the way. And then turn this into a repeatable business almost nothing !