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 for the company they work for.
It's extremely demanding. It never stops... and it's also the most thrilling experience of my professional life. This is Startup CEO Roles and Responsibilities.
BTW- this is part of a new course on starting a business- check out this link for more info.
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 startup 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, but it's much easier to build a team by delegating your tasks, than by hiring people to do things you have no idea how to do.
When you know how to do something, you know how long it should take others to do it, which keeps your teams efficient.
However, knowing how to do everything means, well, that you have to learn a bit about everything. Going back to my background, coming out of high school I decided to study computer science, which didn't end up doing it for me but gave some basic knowledge in coding which has been insanely useful as the CEO of a tech company. I understand, at least in the abstract, how most of our features work.
After quitting computer science, I did my undergrad in digital animation, as in the guys that do this stuff for a living.
I fell out of love with this career path and ended up dropping out when I started my first business; however, I learned to design. Now I don't consider myself an excellent designer, but I know how things work, I know how long things take to make, I can tell good websites and bad websites apart, and before Slidebean existed, I could build a nice-looking pitch deck without any help. We'll get back to that later.
So as you can see, I don't have a business background. Still, I know accounting, financial models, human resources, I live and breathe Excel, I know legal documentation for startups, I know stocks, loans... I can't say I'm an expert in either of these matters, but I understand them. As a startup CEO, you just have to. You have to learn something new every day, and you have to learn fast, and no career path can prepare you.
So while this may vary from company to company, I'm going to breakdown the tasks I need to perform at Slidebean. Again, at the time of writing, we are a team of 20 people based in 2 countries.
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.
So, starting a company is a marathon, not a sprint (not my quote, by the way). If you are considering starting a business, you need to prepare yourself for what's to come.
I can talk all day about drawing boundaries and setting aside personal time, but the truth is as a founder, vacations and holidays don't mean what they used to mean when you are an employee. Your business is a part of you; period. So be prepared for the marathon of your life.