Founders Share 15 Pieces Of Advice For First-Time Startup CEOs
Startup CEOs are faced with the challenge of developing a business from the ground up, growing as they compete with established brands.What is the best advice for a young, first-time startup CEO" and highlighted some of the best tips from startup founders:
1. You need to want to succeed more than anything else.
The home-rental service Airbnb didn't see any real growth for over two and a half years, but its founders kept adapting their business model and seeking customers and investors until everything clicked. Today the company is estimated to be valued at $10 billion.
2. Define your growth priorities.
"You will grow what you measure," Han says. Set specific growth goals and track your progress every step of the way. And make sure you don't confuse activity with growth.
"Adding features to your product is not growth," Han writes. "Neither is getting a fancy office or going to a lot of events. Adding customers and building product counts as growth ?-? that's about it."
3. Focus on your strengths.
In the same way that you don't want your company's services to be unfocused, you don't want to try to do everything as the CEO, Han says. Find ways to implement what you're best at and hire people to make up for your weaknesses.
4. Learn to make decisions as soon as you know enough to make them."There are 24 hours in a day, and only about 10% of the information needed to make most decisions," Han writes. That means that you'll need to learn to quickly weigh your options and make a choice without mulling anything over too much. You'll need to take risks if you want to get anything done.
5. Don't get distracted by the competition.
"If I decided to become a basketball player tomorrow, do you think it would affect LeBron James' career?" Han asks. It's important that you pay attention to your industry's leaders and your direct competitors, but don't get caught up in responding to every new initiative they undertake.
6. Have a clear vision and purpose.
It's essential that you give your team something to fight for, says Laurence McCahill, founder of digital design services company Spook Studios and author of "4 Steps to a Happy Startup." A vision not only gives you goals to shoot for but fosters a culture your employees and customers can embrace.
7. Make design as important as everything else.
Having an attractive, easy-to-use website that provides access to a similarly aesthetically pleasing and intuitive service will make your customers happy. Never overlook design, McCahill says.
8. Create value for your audience.
A great user experience doesn't mean anything if the service isn't useful.
"First, make sure that you're building the right product for your audience before perfecting the experience," McCahill writes. "Also before you build your product, have a discovery phase where you explore the market, test your riskiest assumptions about your audience and discover any new and potentially more lucrative opportunities."
9. Prioritize customers over investors.
Focus on giving your customers the best product possible, and you'll attract the attention of investors, McCahill says. You'll need to find a way to obtain money, but never spend time and energy on chasing venture capitalists when you could be clarifying your vision and services.
10. Don't launch too late or too early.
"Too many startups spend months (or years in some cases) in 'stealth mode,' hidden away from prying eyes, and end up never releasing at all as uncertainty and competition spoil the show. Equally there are others that launch a poor early version of their product in true lean startup style," McCahill says.Finding the sweet spot is easier said than done, of course, but make sure that you launch once you have something of quality to give your customers, realizing you will be spending the rest of your time running the company improving that service or product.
11. Ask for help if you need it.
If you're an entrepreneur, you're most likely self-confident and probably at least a bit stubborn, McCahill says. But don't let an inflated ego keep you from learning from others. Talk to other entrepreneurs who have already gone through the experience of growing a company, and ask questions about decisions you're unsure about.
12. Hire people smarter than you.
Don't make the mistake of micromanaging your company, says Navid Solfaghari, founder of mobile website developer Pinpoint Mobile. Spend time finding highly talented people who connect with your company's culture and can make decisions on their own after enough training.
13. If things aren't going smoothly after a year, change it up.
There's a good chance your initial vision for your company will change as the company grows. Solfaghari recommends evaluating your business' progress after a year, and if it's not meeting your expectations, you should determine a way to establish a stronger connection with customers.
14. Start your days with the hardest tasks.
Your days will be long and exhausting, Solfaghari says, so begin with the tasks that require the most energy and concentration.
15. Take care of yourself.
"Workout at least four times a week. Body and mind are one. Oh yeah, and get your sleep, too," Solfaghari says.
You will need to dedicate yourself to your startup if you want it to succeed, but you should not neglect your health or your most important personal relationships. To deal with the stress of being a startup CEO, you should have your body in optimum shape and your loved ones around to support you.