Do you have what it takes? You know, there are no fixed rules. Sometimes it feels like you are grasping at straws. One minute you think you know the answer, the next minute you don’t. But you must act. You must do something. There is information overload, and then there is the possibility of failure. You feel stuck; afraid to take that leap. You are a Start Up CEO.
Every entrepreneur has these moments of self-doubt and fear. It’s part of the job. You are the CEO the buck stops with you; but do you have what it takes. Most people don’t.
You’re in survival mode most of the time even when things are swimming because you know sands shift and you competition is right behind you. So you need to stay focused. You can’t let your family down or the people who support you. It’s a lot of weight to carry.
As CEO you will need to lead people, you will need to have and share a vision, you will need to convince funders and bankers to support you, you will need to put everyone in the right place and delegate and trust, and when it all goes wrong everyone will look to you for answers and you will need to regroup and start again. That’s a Start Up CEO. Are you that person?
Okay, so you get all that. What to do? Here are my steps that every person who wants to be a Start Up CEO will need.
My six Key “must do” tasks:
Where are you headed. People need to know. Your employees need to know and so do all your stakeholders. A clear and concise plan has to be put in place and shared 24/7 to everyone.
This plan can only come from you. It’s your thing and you want to make it their thing. So you will draft it and craft it into a document for yourself that you will refine all the time and share. You will have weekly meetings with staff to make sure everyone is travelling in the same direction.
You will spend most of your time with these people so you better like them and have similar interests. No zebras in a pack of chestnut horses. You need to be working together so you need to eliminate those who don’t fit in from the start. You will constantly be shifting people around and discovering who does what better. In other words you will be optimising your team into tasks supported by your vision and goals.
In building a team it’s important to have meetings. The ever popular idea of remote business where people work from home all he time and have SKYPE meetings might be okay for some but in my opinion it’s just a great excuse to stay at home. Business is in interactive process. It requires being able to go into the next room and visually see and speak with your colleagues. It’s face to face and its collaborative. I don’t think you can have great collaboration or ideas when one of you is in pyjamas at home with the dog barking in the background and spouse in the next room.
You will have CFO at some stage. That person’s job will be to make sure your bills are getting paid and establish reporting. Equally to make sure you don’t run out of money.
But you will need to manage revenue, expenses and external financing. You will be speaking to banks and investors so you need to know the numbers pretty well. Despite having a CFO you will responsible for all cash flow management. You need to know which levers to pull and push because business is about managing equity and leverage. You will need to remember two simple formulas ever so complicated in today’s complicated world, 1) don’t spend more than you make, and 2) buy low, sell high, pay late and collect early. People pay a lot of tuition to business schools to get this right.
After you have bled you family and friends of their capital and yours, and if you are still growing you will need more capital. Start ups eat capital and yours will be no different.
Using “Other People’s Money” should be your mantra and getting the right balance of debt and equity will be fundamental for your growth and later your peace of mind. You need to strike the right deals from the very beginning so you will use a professional corporate finance person to help to get it right.
Once on board and after cracking open the champagne, keeping your investors and banks informed will probably be at the top of your list of things to do. It’s normally something most people don’t talk about but it’s a very important task. You will need the right sequence of communication and reporting. You will make regular phone calls to update them. All this will gain their respect and enthusiasm for you, even when things fall apart as they do some times.
People will know you by your brand. Not everyone may know who Steve Jobs is but everyone knows Apple, or Bills Gates, but they know Microsoft. The point is your brand will be bigger than you and it also should be bigger than your business.
A brand needs to focus on your key customers but also be adaptable enough to translate across border and even industry. The brand is the message you are selling. It’s the secret sauce everyone identifies with and wants to buy.
This takes time, and your brand will change a few times before you finally get it right. And then it will change again as you adapt. You as CEO will also need to champion that brand and be out there speaking and communicating the brand to everyone you meet. You will be forever expanding your profile and fostering time with stakeholders at every chance you get.
So now you are growing and selling and everyone is happy. Your equity partners are happy, your banker is happy and you have a great brand that your people can be proud of and stand behind. You’re done right? Wrong.
Now is the time to get serious. Competition will be right behind you and you cannot be complacent at this stage. You need to be researching new ideas, new ways of doing things, trying new developments to stay ahead. It’s too easy to get passed by and left behind if you are not moving forward. Think Nokia and IPhone.
Also there will be acquisition and partnership opportunities that you will need to consider. You need to touch more people’s lives and so you will need to affiliate yourself with others. The bottom line is you will need to take your core business and start to build baskets of other businesses and relationships around it. That is the way you will grow and protect yourself.
As a Start Up CEO there are so many more things you will do on a day-to-day basis, but these six things are mission critical. These are the core tasks you will perform and think about every day.
So do you have what it takes?
I’m a seasoned start-up entrepreneur and property financier who built built businesses worth over $200 million. Since 1992, I helped start a number of large scale businesses including a bank credit department, a mortgage company, and I built the largest single-branded real estate company across five countries in Central Europe. I also developed a portfolio of shopping centers and hypermarkets in Eastern Europe, constructing over two million square feet of retail space.
Today I am involved in the entrepreneur community, trying to share what I’ve learned and I serve as a mentor for startups.
I have authored a new business startup report called “How To Start A Business”. This shows you how to find, enter and profit immediately from a high demand market with virtually no competition… what I call a Blue-Sky Market!
This is how I could turn £400 into £50,000 in just 8 weeks.
Blue-Sky Markets are all around us. You just have to know where to look and have the courage to do things a little different.
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