I started a business and had to learn along the way.
As a CEO or Founder, you have a lot on your shoulders and a breadth of things to manage. Ultimately, there are minimally three things you must do very well.
I got this from Fred Wilson, who in turn got it from an experienced Venture Capitalist,
A CEO does only three things. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.
I have kept some notes on these three things and beyond which I found to be useful.
You are only a first time CEO once
(Extracted from Fred Wilson’s post)
The hardest job in management is the “first time CEO”. I have absolutely no data on this, but I suspect that at least 75% of first time CEO’s fail at some level. Many get fired. Many go down with the ship when it sinks. Some quit. Many sell their businesses before they’ve realized their full potential because they just can’t figure out how to do the job right.
But in venture capitalism, among the most pure forms of capitalism there is, failure isn’t all bad. Because, as i said yesterday, “you are only a first time CEO once”. Most talented business people come up the learning curve quickly. And the next time, they don’t make the same mistakes. They move faster. They listen better. They spend less. They hire better. The list goes on and on.
… What does this mean for entrepreneurs and managers? It means that the first time you run a business, you should admit what you are up against. Don’t let ego get in the way. Ask for help from your board and get coaching and mentoring. And recognize that you may fail at some level. And don’t let the fear of failure get in the way. Because failure isn’t fatal. It may well be a required rite of passage.
Strategy – Every business needs a strategy to string all the resources together to pursue a direction. It involves having a value proposition and positioning in the market.
People – People are the most important assets in the company.
It’s cliche but doesn’t make it untrue. As the African proverb goes, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” A business needs the best people to outcompete and grow.
Execution – Idea is cheap. Everyone has plenty. Execution is what made an idea a reality. You will realise you lack resources and face all the obstacles when you are executing your plan. It takes resolve, strategy and resourcefulness to overcome the limitations.
Marketing – It is a mistake to think that you just need to build the best product and the customers will come. Unfortunately they will not. You need to build the best product and tell the whole world about it.