14 Ways To Be A Great Startup CEO

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14 Ways To Be A Great Startup CEO

 

great startup ceo mark zuckerberg resized 600Everyone thinks that being a startup CEO is a glamorous job or one that has to be a ton of fun. That's what I now refer to as the "glamour brain" speaking aka the startup life you hear about from the press. You know the press articles I'm talking about... the ones that talk about how easy it is to raise money, how many users the company is getting, and how great it is to be CEO. Very rarely do you hear about what a bitch it is to be CEO and how it's not for every founder that wants to be an entrepreneur. I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about what it takes to be a great Startup CEO that is also a founder. Here are some of the traits I've found.

Be A Keeper Of The Company Vision

The CEO is the keeper of the company's overall vision. I'm not talking about the vision for the next few months, but the larger road ahead. The CEO needs to be able to keep things on course for the current quarter to make sure that the large overarching vision of the company can be achieved. The takeover the world vision of a startup usually can't be achieved in one year or even in some cases, like Google, in a decade. It takes a great startup CEO to keep the company on track to achieve that vision. A great startup CEO will often judge upcoming initiatives to see if they fit in as a piece of the large puzzle for the bigger vision.

Absorb The Pain For The Team

A startup CEO needs to be the personal voodoo doll for a startup. They need to be able to take on a strong burden of stress, pain, and torture all while making level headed decisions. You can't have the troops stressing and worrying about the difficult challenges at hand. A good startup CEO will absorb the stress, so the rest of the team can carry on. He also needs to be able to mask this pain and stress. Not that he should hide or lie to the team- I'm not encouraging that. Most of the day to day nuances+stresses of a startup aren't worth having the entire team worry about and the CEO needs to bear that pain.

Find The Smartest People And Defer On Domain Expertise

A startup CEO has a great knack for finding talent. The key is finding people that are smarter than you on specific topics. It might be technical team members/leaders or it might be a new VP of Biz Dev. A startup CEO has to have the ability to find these people and make relatively fast decisions to hire them. They also have to be able to show the fire and passion to convince them to leave what is most likely a better paying and more secure job to join the company. The real key to hiring as a startup CEO comes after the hire. A great startup CEO will be able to trust the hires that they make and defer to them on areas of domain expertise. It's hard to let go, but you have to learn to, especially when the company grows.

Be A Good Link Between The Company + Investors

Whether you want to believe it or not, you are not an investor's only portfolio company. Even if you are a superstar, they have a handful of other companies to help and a ton of incoming potential portfolio companies. A good investor will pick 2-3 new companies per year to work with. A good startup CEO will be a good link between progress, issues, and areas where they need help with investors. A good portion of early stage startups that raise money will have a board comprised of 3 people: the CEO founder, the investor, and an independent board member. You are the lone representative for your cofounder and other employees.

Be A Good Link Between The Company + Product

I have this unwavering belief that the best companies are those that keep a founder as CEO for the long haul. Not because the founders have the right to be CEO, but because the CEO needs to be close to the product vision of the company. Founding CEOs understand this the best and can carry out that same unified vision over time. To fill in the management gaps a great COO, other board members, and heads of divisions will come along. It's a strategy that Facebook has employed and why Apple has had a great resurgence with Steve Jobs at the helm. It's all about keeping the CEO as close as possibly linked to the product.

Be Able To Learn On The Job

Most startup CEOs didn't start out with an MBA or some background in growing a company from nothing to something. The best have an ability to learn along the way and embrace their failures to become a better leader. Zuck started when he was 19 and now 7 years later, runs the most powerful internet company. Don't worry about whether "you're qualified" as it's hard to put typical qualifications on the job. You'll learn the really core stuff along the way. The best startup CEOs will surround themselves with smart mentors to be a sounding board along the way.

No Experience Almost Preferred

It's almost better to have a blank slate of zero experience as a startup CEO. If you come in with preconceived notions and block out the scrappy methods of a startup founder, it actually hurts you. Traditional education often trains you to be CEO or manager for a much larger company, not for a startup of under 50 people. It's a different kind of leadership and company.

Have An Uncanny Ability To Say No

You will be inundated with a list of requests from potential partners, investors, employees, and more. They will all sound absolutely wonderful. As you grow, you will also have the resources to execute more of them. Don't. It's easy to say yes, but so very hard to say no. By having an uncanny ability to say no, you can keep your company on track with the large vision you maintain. It will also keep your team members (notice I don't like to use the word "employees") laser focused and feel more rewarded as they are able to focus on one thing for a good chunk of time. I've seen too many startups sink because the CEO keeps changing what the head of product and engineering should be doing.

Have Some Technical Knowledge And Skillset

A good startup CEO shouldn't be afraid of a little bit of code and a text editor. They don't need to be diving into the source code on a daily basis, but they need to understand the technical requirements. It's easy to say "go build this", but it's a whole other ball game to understand how to build it. What seems simple may be a huge mountain of a technical feat that just isn't feasible with the given resources and deadlines. It can also help lend some street cred with hiring early technical team members too.

Be Able To Break Things Down Into Sizable Chunks + Milestones

Remember that huge unwavering vision that you are the keeper of? Odds are it only makes sense to you and your cofounder. You will need to break it up into sizable chunks and milestones for the rest of the team to understand it. You also need to be able to pick when and where to conquer things strategically. What is the past of least resistance so you can gain traction? What can you do first with your given resources?

Have The Ability To Call An Audible

Nothing goes according to plan. Things fall through, people quit, shit happens, servers crash, and other random things go bump in the night. You're going to have to deal with it and fast. This is a football term:

"Seen when the quarterback goes up to the line of scrimmage, sees a defensive alignment he wasn't expecting, and adjusts by yelling out a new play."

You're going to come up against things that you didn't expect and just be able to call an audible. Launch faster, spend more money here, or even abandon a project.

Can Motivate The Team Through Despair

People love to talk in this business. People love to talk even more when you're company isn't fairing well. A great CEO will be able to take those moments of public despair and keep the company focused. They will be able to debunk the rumors or even approach them head on by keeping the members of the company focused on the bigger mission at hand. It can come in simple 5 minute talks or motivational emails. The worst thing you can do is avoid the situation and be passive aggressive. I repeat: DO NOT WUSS OUT.

Be A Great Communicator

You need to be able to portray the energy and passion that you feel into others...over and over and over and over and over and over again on a daily basis. As a startup founder you need to communicate the vision and hope for the future of your startup to the rest of the world. You need to be able to break down the overall vision of the company into something that mere mortals can understand. You can't speak in crazy technical jargon or industry terms. It needs to be simple, clear, and compelling. You also need to be able to argue your point. Many will pick "fights" with you just to see how strong willed you are. Be respectful, but be very confident in your answer. Often wrong, but never in doubt my friend.

Don't Be A "Fake CEO"

Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, makes a strong case for not being a fake ceo. In short, worry about things that produce results, not fame. If it's between going to a conference/doing an interview or completing a deal, get the deal done. Don't "leave it to someone else". You need to get your hands dirty every single day.

By no means is this an exhaustive or definitive list. In some cases, the traits listed above might be counter-intuitive. What are some traits you've seen in great founding startup CEOs? Not the glamorous job you thought it was, eh?

You Should Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jasonlbaptiste, Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasonlbaptiste, Email Me: jbaptiste@onstartups.com, or even call: 201.305.0552

Posted by Jason Baptiste on Tue, Dec 28, 2010

COMMENTS

Thanks for giving such a useful read.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM by abhinav


I own all this that you mention in the 14 Ways but I have something important at the time to grow as a company and is money. If you have any way of how to present an idea to an investor and it decides to invest in my business, let me know so I can grow my business, which is just beginning. 
I send you greetings and happy holidays.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:03 AM by Diego Alonso


Nice recap of our responsibilities as a CEO. I like the part about getting "your hands dirty every single day." 
 
It's easy to lose site of that some days.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:03 AM by Bryant Avey


This is a great list. The point I'd champion over and over is the need to get your hands dirty. The most successful start ups I have coaches have leaders that do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Whether that's cleaning the office and printing a welcome sign for a big proposal or simply being the last one in the company to take the allotted annual vacation - the leader does whatever it takes to lead the team where the money is.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:07 AM by Dan Wilson


Outstanding stuff, and all 100% true. Take a step back and almost all of these are traits of any good leader, start up CEO or not.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM by Les Makepeace


I might add one very important fact every successful CEO needs to know. 
 
It is very lonely at the top.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM by warren schroefel


"Can Motivate The Team Through Despair" 
 
Probably my favorite one on the list. We work with the Twitter API - talk about having some times of despair! But I tell the MarketMeSuite team to keep spirits up, put on the Tassimo, and we always get through it :)

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:17 AM by Tammy


Another thing to have on these INNOVATION days, http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/ ... Never Let FEAR of SUCCESS dominate you!!!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:17 AM by Carole


Very good point. Not easy to have all in one however its also not easy to become one like that. 
 
Keep sharing good stuffs!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:23 AM by Sheo Narayan


Good list. But much, if not all, comes from fairly good articles by Ben Horowitz. If you find this interesting and are looking for more, I suggest following everything that Andreesen and Horowitz write. They bring insight based upon immense operational experience and all the stuff above comes really alive in their hands.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:26 AM by Rama


great post. It shows you've been there or somehow really know the role. I've been there and I think you are spot on. I will repost the link on my blog.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM by jeff weber


Words of wisdom for a CEO: Nothing stays the same, change is inevitable - adapt or die.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM by Mark Colyer


Great blog... as always. I'd like to add: recognize that there is no such thing as mundane. If you find yourself performing tasks that seem mundane, then those things need to be delegated down. If you, as CEO, are uniquely qualified to perform the task, then you need to change your attitude and truly see why the task is important, then give it your full attention and the mundane will melt away.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:33 AM by Reme Pullicar


This is a great article! Thank you for writing/sharing Jason. I especially liked the examples you gave (Quarterback calling an Audible at the line of scrimmage). Very easy to relate to (for me at least). :) 
 
Here's a great read: "The Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki". One of the best points I took from that book is the Art of Being a Mensch - To be a mensch, you must help people, do what's right, and give back to society.  
 
There are too many people that focus only on "what's in it for ME", instead of being a genuinely good person. A start up CEO needs all the support he/she can get. So be a good person and the support should follow.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:57 AM by Dave


Great write up :-) 
This is my second stint as CEO of a start-up (previous one had a very nice exit ;-)) and I thought that it would have been easier ..... no way ... I still wake up middle of the night thinking about the company ... 
Best quote: "Often wrong, but never in doubt my friend" 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:04 PM by Alberto Mantovani


Part of the team of professionals to defer to include legal and tax professionals. These are the professionals that will guide you over legal and tax obstacles and assist you in avoiding legal and tax traps, respectively.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:10 PM by Michelle L. Grenier, New Business Lawyer


Very good list. Oh so many with the same intent have been written. This one feels especially well-informed. Thanks!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:11 PM by Dave Brown


nice read.. i wouldn't term it "ways" rather "qualities that a startup CEO should possess".. life is the best teacher and I believe most (could be all) qualities may not be inherent but can be gained with time..

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:23 PM by Mukesh Agarwal


Good points. I would also add #15: "Become an expert at removing obstacles"

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:32 PM by Michael Shraybman


Thankyou for this very useful and informed information. 
 
I would however respectfully suggest one small addition to  
The paragraph entitled "Have An Uncanny Ability To Say No". 
 
Saying "No" means that you will probably make mistakes along the way - particularly if one is learning, and who amongst us don't? 
 
Accepting that mistakes will be made from the outset I believe equips one with a better mind-state, helping to avoid fearful clutter of the kind that can get in the way of making objective and pragmatic decisions. 
 
Being at the top is never about avoiding all mistakes, but more about steering the most successful course amidst them. Accepting that mistakes will occur and putting measures in-place to avoid recurrence is in my view one of the key requisites of a CEO. 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM by Brendan Townsend


Dear friend jasonlbaptiste, 
 
 
 
Its knowledgeable article. 
 
Just I would like to ask you something... 
 
 
 
I am in India in Software/ERP Sales Business in West India , I have dream to setup professional company with good system. 
 
 
 
Can you suggest me some organization structure. I have limited funds & started as Individual ownership firm. 
 
 
 
can you guide, how to grow. 
 
girish.tiwadi@gmail.com 
 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:57 PM by Girish Tiwari


Some good advice in this article. I would suggest that one reconsider the wisdom of having a CEO with no experience. Usually the CEOs who are able to take companies to the next level have done it before. Without the depth and wisdom gained from other positive and constructive business experiences, a CEO can lead the ship onto the rocks.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:01 PM by Leslie Horton


Love it. Thanks.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM by Daniela Huppe


Nice work Jason. Stay well.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:03 PM by Willis Jackson


This is a good list. I think there is one more thing. Establishing the company culture and being unwavering in commitment to it as layers of employees are brought into the company. Often it is so easy to recruit based on resume merrit without doing a thorough evaluation as to whether the new individual really fits into the culture. As a result, the company culture begins to waffel all over the place as strong leaders pull the culture one way or another. As a result good employees often bail because of the conflict and hidden landmines this causes. For start up companies this can be devistating. It causes a form of conflict I refer to system's conflict because it will infiltrate all systems and in every direction. Not unlike the seeds of a dandylion taking root.  
 
Dianne

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:06 PM by Dianne Crampton


"No Experience Almost Preferred". No argument here; although there are a few programs that focus more on early stage business skills (wealth creation) rather than the wealth management approach taken by most MBA programs. 
 
For example, the Masters in Technology Commercialization at UT's McCombs school: 
http://new.mccombs.utexas.edu/mstc 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:17 PM by Dan W


Great post of characteristics of great CEOs for startups. Well said. 
 
Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor 
Find New Customers "Lead Generation Made Simple" 
http://www.findnewcustomers.com

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:17 PM by Jeff Ogden


Thanks greatly for these information. Real struggle from over expectation of employees and lack of investors are killing the startup of my publishing company. I do love the people out there to come and help push the publication up...

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:33 PM by Oladimeji Adisa


Loved reading this concise article. There will be more qualities that may vary in degree in different CEO's but I think this captures the essence. I liked 'Have An Uncanny Ability To Say No' and 'Don't Be A "Fake CEO"' the best. People can make out if you are faking it and may tolerate it for a while, but never a good thing for the long haul.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:37 PM by K


As someone who has been through the startup grind (not as a CEO), I think the single most important skill is Communication Skills: Sell to customers and investors and motivate the team. Everything else is secondary.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 1:39 PM by Startupper


Very nice write up. Some great additions in the comments too. I would like to add that I believe you have to love having employees. I meet many CEOs who dislike having "employee issues". I don't know how you grow a business if you can't stand having people working for you. I personally find working with our staff one of the best parts of the job.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:05 PM by Arnie Kuenn


Another great article from Dharmesh. I have 2 more points to add: 
 
 
 
1) Be cautiously optimistic: Most of the things that you hoped for do not happen. That customer who was almost signing up did not do so at the last momemnt. That check which was supposed to be on your desk got delayed by 2 weeks. So dont get excited too fast because it will most probably wont happen. At the same time excude passion so that the team members pick it from you. 
 
2) Do NOT rely on VC funding in your Business plan: The chances of getting funding from VC for first time startups are less than winning a lottery. So make sure you get to the moentization fast. We are always lured by "lets build the userbase and then get the investment and then get to monetization" model. Monetization should always be the first thing you think..Assume that you will never get funding. 
 
 
 
Now a shameless plug for Vaayoo's mobile application framework: 
 
If you have a great idea and want to create a killer mobile app from it, try Vaayoo: http://www.vaayoo.com/appsplatform/VaayooAppsplatform.aspx . 
 
 
 
We have helped several non-tech entrepreuners turn their ideas into market-leading and money making mobile apps. Subscription based model with negligible monthly instalments. 
 
 
 
You just need an idea..Leave the rest to us.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:08 PM by Ranjit Sawant


Well...please begin by removing Zuckerberg's picture from the head of this text...makes most ppl want to shut off their PCs.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:10 PM by Ioan


Obama does not have any of these traits. This is all about capitalism not socialism.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:20 PM by John


A startup CEO – in my view – may be compared to a coach of a soccer team. You will not score any goal on your own. But without you the people on the playing field most likely will score fewer goals.  
 
As founder/CEO of a number of startups over the previous 15 years I came to learn from many different people and CEOs: There is no single path to success yet many of the successful startup CEOs share similar traits: Laser like focus, an uncanny ability to attract talent and an ability to lay out a clear goal and pursue this goal relentlessly. Just like a football coach. 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM by Dorian


This is a good list for being kicked out of the position by VCs for being "too operational". Still, it's good advice for a hypothetical company which might have some ownership/control left with the CEO. They're just way too rare to find nowadays.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 2:38 PM by John Richards


Everything is good except that pic!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 3:30 PM by knowledgenotebook


Great article, delegating is a key element of growing your business and working well with others 
 
 
 
http://www.facebook.com/topoftheworldlimo 
 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 4:30 PM by craig


Great list! Thanks for sharing.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 4:46 PM by Shelly


This could come very handy for most of us. To "Have An Uncanny Ability To Say No" is the hardest on the list for me. 
 
Thank you very much for pointing these out. Happy Holidays.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 4:48 PM by vyncynt


Very solid advice, based on my 5 start-ups, one a HBS study (CNTX). I once explained being a disruptive company start-up CEO meant getting up early, taking a quick shower, suddenly having the dry heaves and knowing the best part of your day is over! A little harsh, but successfully starting and building a ground breaking company is harsh.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 5:04 PM by Peter A. Howley


Very solid advice, based on my 5 start-ups, one a HBS study (CNTX). I once explained being a disruptive company start-up CEO meant getting up early, taking a quick shower, suddenly having the dry heaves and knowing the best part of your day is over! A little harsh, but successfully starting and building a ground breaking company is harsh.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 5:06 PM by Peter A. Howley


Who says I'm repetitive!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 5:35 PM by peter a. howley


In the immortal words of AC/DC's Bon Scott - 'It's a long way to the top if you want to Rock N Roll". This is something that has been resonating with me more and more as I grow my start-up. Sometimes (I bet often) entrepreneur's have a naive expectation of what and how long it's going to take to launch a successful start-up. I am guilty of this. 
 
First point speaks to this however as a 'lean start-up' I also believe in flexibility to 'pivot' in order to achieve product market fit. This may require modifying or redefining your vision.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 6:28 PM by Allen Ackerman


Great post, I have one more to consider. 
 
The ability to be a little "naughty".  
As a start-up CEO, one cannot always follow the rules completely and do what everyone wants you to do. You have to be willing to bend the rules during the initial phases of starting up. I don't mean breaking laws, but being willing to do stuff that normal people wouldn't normally do. For example, sneaking into a conference staging room to meet the keynote speaker, who then might plug your product in his speech. No, you weren't supposed to sneak back stage, but it didn't hurt anyone and could lead to a great introduction.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 7:32 PM by Kai Stephan


Jason, 
 
A great posting! Its true that the skill set that makes for a successful startup CEO is quite different from that of the corporate world. While the universe of startup CEOs who go on to take their company public is a small one, there is nothing better for the shareholders than to have a leader who was there obsessing about the company's potential from the beginning. 
 
Best, 
 
CO 

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 7:51 PM by Charlie O'Flaherty


Great post. I disagree re a couple items. Much better to have a startup CEO who has successfully built other startups. And while technical skills help, if you have a strong tech co founder you don't need that in many cases.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 10:20 PM by FastSpring CEO


Great work. If I may add one thing I have learned to help garner traction, investment and key talent is to do whatever it takes to build your customer base and demand BEFORE you build your product. Build it and they will come is that much riskier...

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 10:38 PM by Harish Chauhan


Thankyou for sharing such great information.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:06 PM by Nidhi


Love it so much! Thanks for sharing!

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:52 PM by Tyler Tang


Thanks for sharing, great points. Also love the comments of the others, insightful.

posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 11:54 PM by Harry van der Veen


great article.thanks for sharing.happy new year.cheers. 
vijetha shastry  
bangalore,india

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 1:00 AM by vijetha shastry


Wonderful article Jason! 
I would like to add one more point to the above list 
Being a decision maker 
A startup CEO shouldn't be afraid to take decisions. He should be bold enough to make quick decisions and take the responsibility for the consequences.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 1:48 AM by Satish Kumar Perala


Hello, this is a great post and the key attributes described in it apply to any CEO I would add.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 2:15 AM by jean-louis


Thanks for the crap. :) 
Remember there is never one formula for success, you should know which one suits best for you.It might never work for any one else, don't worry, it will work for you.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 2:30 AM by brij


All very true employ the best both within your company, and on the outside lawyers accountants and if you can find one a friendly bank manager. 
 
one very important thing thats missing is LUCK it has to be in there someware, VC are hard but patience is a virtue

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 3:01 AM by vic.king


Greta list I think every CEO or entrepreneur should read, However points off for zureburgs picture. He is in a tremendous growth period , lets see he does when adversity hits hard and his business is in decline and the money isn't flowing like milk and honey. Time when yo are not "popular" but someone out there is kicking you can. Let's see how e adapts then we will truly see if he is a great CEO.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 7:18 AM by Mike


nc

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 10:11 AM by Mireille


I enjoyed this article very much Jason. Very insightful and helpful. I too tend to lead more towards a CEO with some previous experience as there are many, MANY obstacles to overcome. However every so often there are exceptions to the rules... and I for one love to shatter the limitations of "the rules" when they become more inhibiting than helpful. 
 
Cheers, 
R. Paiva  
President & CEO 
Trekmore Corporation 
Electric Overdrive /TM/

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 11:16 AM by R. Paiva


Great article. Spot on. Thanks for the post.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 12:50 PM by Rose Mihaly


Nice post but I note with irony that you used Zuckerberg's image. He violates the principles expressed in number 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and ESPECIALLY #13. hehe 
 
Judy Shapiro

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 5:23 PM by Judy Shapiro


Thanks Jason. Powerful points made simply. Lot of learning for an early stage co-founder. Happy holidays.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 6:15 PM by Sugato


Very Good Articule. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.  
 
Alot of things we take for granted, however always goof to have a recap to make sur we are doing what we are emant to do when we are meant to do it an not wasting time on task that should be delegated out to empower our staff.  
 
 
 
Thanks again 
 
Chris Madumere 
 
CEO 
 
Corporate Homes letting agency.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 6:34 PM by CHris Madumere


Great Summary. Enjoyed the entire article.

posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 11:18 PM by Satya Sahu


The CEO I currenly work for is great absorbing the pain, has a great vision and is pretty stable all round, Nice article Dharmesh. Thanks.

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:31 AM by Printing companies in gauteng


Wow Great article Dharmesh. Nice vision

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 2:25 AM by Abhishek


This is a great post. I might just echo asking the right question; a good start up CEO needs to employ the techniques of positive inquiry, be authentic and human enough to exude a good measure of genuineness.

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 6:20 AM by Zacharia Orem


Thanks. Great post.

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM by Rob


As is often the case, I find your blog to be a source of terrific information and inspiration. This post was no exception. Thanks for a terrific read!

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 1:39 PM by Tom Munns


Very informative. Good read!

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM by Adam


I would add one thing. Don't get ahead of yourself. Plan for success but don't assume it. I have been involved with startups in the past that spent like dot.com millionaires before the revenue justified it. I will never make that mistake with SOCO Games.

posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 6:35 PM by Jeff Bogensberger


Good inspiration to start the new year. Personally, I love your thoughts about "calling an audible" -- for a new entrepreneur, recognizing the need for courage in your role to steer and realign as needed is critical.

posted on Saturday, January 01, 2011 at 8:17 AM by Peter Wyro


Enjoyed this post; thank you. I'd like to suggest that each of these could be broken out into individual posts to develop your ideas. Hope to see more. 
Thanks.

posted on Saturday, January 01, 2011 at 9:39 PM by Toni Sciarra Poyner


good points, I would like to add three more, most important ones:  
 
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. Select a niche for your solution, and stay focussed on that. Like Jason, I have seen start-ups go bankrupt because they went doing things that were not in there main vision. 
 
 
 
Thijs van Hofwegen 
 
european Business Developer for Start-Ups

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 2:43 AM by Thijs van Hofwegen


I enjoyed reading this.. though the ways were very simply put I guess, there is no one formula for success... 
 
I liked the motivating the team through despair..its very much true..Conviction is a key here, of course with a great marketting ability to sell anything...:) 
 
 
 

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 3:15 AM by Kranthi Kumar


Great Article and the list is very good

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 8:45 AM by Govind Kulkarni


In the words of Woody Allen - "Success is often just a matter of showing up". For a CEO, it is showing up every single day without fail even on days when you didn't want to get out of bed to face what was in store.

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 10:56 AM by Anil Gupte


I want to be a great startup CEO. thank you :)

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 3:24 PM by Misyon5ice


Thanks for the guidelines! I'm sharing this with the management team in our search for a start-up CEO as interview questions and criteria for evaluation for hire.

posted on Monday, January 03, 2011 at 3:30 PM by Joe Bencharsky


"Find The Smartest People And Defer On Domain Expertise" 
 
In this respect, I have learned that you can only be as strong as your weakest employee. If you can't let go of what your not an expert at, you will be the weak link.

posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 4:35 PM by Bonnie Andrews


Thanks to forward emails to me

posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 9:48 PM by Ajay


I wanted to add another thing is that as a startup CEO, yo should be able to understand what your product needs are and align the team with motivation. Need to find out who adds value. Understand unequal equity contribution and form a truely deserved team of co-founders. It an art as a CEO to bring it to the table.

posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011 at 6:24 AM by Muthu


I really like this article showing the best qualities of CEO. every one should follows this regulations sincerely to be the good CEO

posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2011 at 10:25 PM by horoscope


Very Good Article. I feel one of the important point is to "Be Passionate" about the startup, not faking but really having a passion for the business.

posted on Thursday, January 06, 2011 at 12:33 AM by Rajesh Bhasin


This is a great article. Thanks for sharing.

posted on Thursday, January 06, 2011 at 1:49 PM by soccerff22


well you are on the right track....

posted on Friday, January 07, 2011 at 1:12 AM by Asad


Thanks for the sharing ...#15 
 
 
 
A Great CEO / Founder don't forget to "PRAY" to the God that deposited the idea in them , before going to battle .

posted on Friday, January 07, 2011 at 6:14 AM by


Great article. One company I started I planned for 5 months. I then worked 11 months 18 hours a day. Hiring, training, managing, etc by day. Bookkeeper, planning etc. by night. It is a tremendous burden. One big important factor is your physical condition. You have to be able to physically endure! Go to: http://persoanlblueprinttransformation.blogspot.com/

posted on Saturday, January 08, 2011 at 10:03 AM by Eric


I would also add: Be balanced.  
There are many contradicting considerations, such as making expenses vs. purchasing equipment, services or giving a higher salaries, getting into arguments with your investors or bend a little to keep them happy even you think this is a bad path? A lot of things like that to handle. 
 
Diego, money is not mandatory. Take for example Mark Zuckerberg who developed most of Facebook primary code by himself, surrunding himself by talents who worked for equity only. 

posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 at 7:01 AM by Nir Oren


Great read - thank you!

posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 at 8:45 AM by Richard


Great read and I am going to be sharing this with several start up companies I have been involved with over the past two years. I have another new start up that I will make these gospel. I have seen many mistakes and you hit it on the head why many can fail. Thankyou!

posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 3:29 PM by Noelle


Profound insights! Very useful...

posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 4:48 AM by Luvuyo


Thank you! You put these points to concisely and beautifully. My compliments to you.

posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 at 8:33 AM by Shubhendu Nath


Most people seem to forget or perhaps ignore that the CEO is basically the Father of the company. I'd gotta say that this is a pretty long post but it's worth reading!

posted on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 1:17 PM by Mike Lopez


Really great tips from Jason... Love reading his posts.

posted on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 10:57 PM by Neeraj


Truly Said jason...very informative and interesting article, thanks

posted on Monday, January 17, 2011 at 10:38 PM by Kompal


Lovely article, actually very useful

posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 10:40 AM by Yoosuf


Fabulous post - and very encouraging & affirming to this CEO / Founder of a Startup! Here's to not knowing it all, learning on the job, and being able to say no!

posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 2:12 PM by Ellen Graf-Martin


I was really greate, reading this article.

posted on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 3:06 AM by Abhishek


Its a great article

posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM by Amit


Finally read my backlog of posts from the Holidays in my feed reader. I must say that this post was awesome. Thanks!

posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 3:12 PM by Drew Venegas


Great article, thank for taking the time to educate and advise young and startup CEOs.

posted on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 7:06 PM by John Moss


Hi Jason, 
 
Enjoyed reading your article. Especially liked mention of "Have Some Technical Knowledge" And Skillset and Don't Be A "Fake CEO". 
 
Another important trait could be "flexibility and adaptation". Things tend to change quite rapidly for small companies and this trait will be useful overcoming those odds. 
 
-Mahesh B. Danke

posted on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 10:37 AM by Mahesh B. Danke


I have no doubt that these are some of the characteristics of a super CEO. But I am very sure that each CEO is different and is made out of different carbon prints and might not necessarily fit in. Still, great read

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM by Ching


These are good traits listed here and I like the part that not every founder wants to be the entrepreneur. The difficulty is deciding on the share of the company considering that you often dont share the risk! Wish I have a formula to sort this one out.

posted on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 9:35 AM by Tshepo


Great Pointers - thanks - 
But, considering the revolution in entrepreneurism, can't women be CEOs as well??? 
 
;)

posted on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 9:17 AM by Lisa R Tucci


Hey I like the point: 
"Ability to say NO" 
Because it is not the duty of CEO to win everybody's heart. And the one who try it face the failure.  
Please visit my blog http://www.expertface.com  
Here you will find lot of information regarding business and management. 
 
http://www.expertface.com

posted on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 10:08 AM by Noraiz


One characteristic not mentioned is maintaining a productive relationship with the board of trustees. If the CEO is the quarterback, the board is the coaching staff. The CEO needs to be responsive to the board's guidance, keep them fully informed, and work cooperatively with them. 
 
We at Twist Education have been using a book "Building Better Boards" by David A. Nadler, Beverly Behan, Mark Nadler, and Jay W. Lorsch as a prime source of guidance in this regard.

posted on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM by Henry Halff


Thanks..it inspires and corrects some of the mistakes for me.

posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2011 at 8:42 PM by Vineet


sounds great!

posted on Friday, February 04, 2011 at 10:25 AM by leemur


Great article. Not only is focusing important but having that vision is writing is very critical to the future growth and success of any company. A visionary CEO will also consider the "Plan B" if something would happen to him or her, so that the longevity of their dream will continue on. The first question I ask a client or my audience is "Who comes after you? and 90% of the time, they have no one in mind. Business contingency planning is powerful and needs to be done at the onset of any idea.\

posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2011 at 10:01 AM by Sher Graham


I like how you started this article. It's true, startup CEO job is not glamorous when you are the one doing it. And it's one of the most thankless jobs out there. I was a first time CEO of StarWind Software and I had to manage and grow a company of 35 person team internationally. I doubled global sales in 1 year (in USA alone >140%), got it to break even in 1.5 years and it was still not good enough for the founder who said I should've done more. :) A 24 hours a day job with little gratitude does not make things "glamorous" in my view. I felt as if I was just a grunt, a cog...never meant anything to have a CEO title. 
 
Also, I would add several key items to the list of top things CEO must do at this stage of the company: 
 
1) Strategic Planning with your team - clear and organized communication to everyone about the direction "where the company needs to go". Success depends on everyone stepping in sync and moving in the same direction in order to achieve an objective.  
 
2) Set MBOs! - i.e. stop "flying by the seat of your pants" approach which some startup CEOs seem to do too much. Yes, being unstructured is in many cases at an early stage but this doesn't obviate the need for setting measurable MBOs/goals for your managers and for all experienced team members (this way you don't need to waste time on micromanaging everyone all the time). 
 
3) Hire Slowly, Fire Fast! 
(human capital is key but hiring wrong people can kill you at an early stage) 
 

posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2011 at 3:57 PM by Zorian Rotenberg


Agreed and well said.  
Another thing think about is how the CEO is focusing on the team's collective goals in relation to the business goals. It's very interesting that most companies rarely think through their team's motivation/focus until after the business is going 150 mph (or veering a bit "sideways").  
Having a People Strategy thought out is probably the most underrated, yet most crucial aspect to any organization (large, small, start-up, established).  
Any company would be in a better place if everyone down from the CEO to a college intern could recite the company business goals with understanding and ease. This would drive synergy, productivity and laser focus. It would help guide the team to make smarter and the right decisions. 
A CEO can't do it all. Not having a well planned People Strategy is like going to the gym after you've gained 20 lbs - pretty painful and a little bit too late. 
 
Kerry Fischer 
Casey Consulting 
kerry@caseyhrconsulting.com

posted on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 3:31 PM by Kerry Fischer


This is a great list that I'll be forwarding to some friends. 
 
I think vision and "taking one for the team" are the most important. You can bring in someone else (with some experience) to handle money and investments.

posted on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 9:21 AM by Horia Dragomir


Really great advices. "No Experience Almost Preferred".. brought me memories!

posted on Monday, February 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM by Sol Gonzalex


Amazing article, every start-ups CEO must read even all CEOs must read this article 
 
I found many CEO's from old school dont have mush expertize into latest things so that they cant think like what todays customers are thinking. 
 
I would love to spread this article in my network.

posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 8:48 PM by Yogesh M. A.


All the points are very important for a CEO but for the leader they are must.

posted on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 12:24 AM by Alka


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