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Let me just throw it out there: being a startup CEO is the most demanding and mentally exhausting job I've ever had. The decisions you make, affect not only the future of your company but the future of the people who trust you to make the right decisions.
It's extremely demanding. It never stops... and it's also the most thrilling experience of my professional life.
Here’s some of my background in case you don’t know me: our company Slidebean is a web presentation platform, way more efficient than PowerPoint. We have over 600,000 sign-ups from all over the world, over $1MM in annual revenue and growing fast. We are a US company with a team of 20+ people based in New York City and in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I'm originally from.
I'm the CEO, and one of three company founders- and everything in these videos comes from my own experience, managing this, we'll call it a successful company, and a previous one, who went out of business.
As a CEO you'll need creativity, people skills, number skills, patience, resolve... but before all that, I think the most critical skill set a founder need is the ability to learn and adapt fast.
You will need to do a bit of everything in your company, especially when starting up- from tech tasks such as setting up an email to routing your domain- to understanding the employment legislation in your city, state, and country. As your company grows, you can delegate these tasks.
Starting with my core tasks, or the ones I feel I'll never be able to delegate- and then moving to the functions that I am already looking to pass along to somebody else on the team.
- Rule #1: Don't run out of money.
- Rule #2: Don't run out of money. Balance new hires, budget expansion with revenue forecasts to spend capital efficiently. I'm understating how important this is.
- Define the company roadmap and strategy.
- Connect the tasks of all the teams.
- Optimize and facilitate.
- Preside over the Board of Directors.
- Create and care for the company culture.
- Keep the team motivated.
- Deal with compliance
On more Slidebean and me-specific tasks:
- Write the scripts for these weekly videos, and oversee the content marketing efforts we make.
- Approve large product or service purchases.
- Oversee the marketing site (our landing pages) and the strategy to improve it.
- Lead some of our new marketing experiments, once again, so I can understand them and then delegate them.
- Manage potential partnerships.
- Define salaries and benefits packages for our team, based on our company budget.
- Create and follow up on critical partnerships and business proposals.
Here are my top 3 priorities:
- Don't start a company for the sake of starting a company: I see a lot of entrepreneurs who just 'wanted to build a business' and sat down to find an idea. That's the wrong approach.
In most cases, your startup idea comes from your own experience: a unique industry insight you learned at your job, an exceptional talent you acquired, or a business opportunity that you have the skills to monetize.
- Uncertainty: be prepared for not knowing where your company is going. For the first few months or even years, you will have limited visibility about your future, so embrace living in the moment.
Most startups fail, that's a sad but very real statistic, so even if your idea is great, be prepared mentally and financially to deal with failure. Don't quit your day job until you are ready and know when to go back to a day job.
- Long working hours: as a founder-CEO, you are working on your business 100% of the time. Your brain is always going to be on your business, and it's incredibly exhausting. Even vacations are hard to enjoy when people's lives depend on your decisions.
Be prepared for the marathon of your life.
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