CEO Responsibilities at Startup

Being a Startup CEO

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 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.

Startup CEO Roles and Responsibilities:

As a CEO you’ll need

  • Creativity,
  • People Skills,
  • Number Skills,
  • Patience,
  • Resolve…

but before all that, I think the most critical skill 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.

Jobs for the CEO:

  1. Don’t run out of money:  Job #1 for the CEO: Don’t run out of money. Job #2: Don’t run out of money. Balance new hires, budget expansion with revenue forecast to spend capital efficiently. I’m understating how important this is. It is your responsibility to keep the company going. Define the company roadmap and strategy: from yearly to quarterly to monthly plans.
  2. Connect the tasks of all the teams: ensure we are all rowing in the same direction, and sync feature launches with marketing campaigns and customer training. You are the one person in the company that oversees everything that’s going on.
  3. Optimize and facilitate, so that teams can work more efficiently.
  4. Preside over the Board of Directors and keep board members and investors updated and informed.
  5. Create and care for the company culture. Again, this is easier said than done, and so much more important than it sounds.
  6. Keep the team motivated. Our revenue information is open to everyone in the team, so they know, every day, whether it’s meeting our expectations or not. It’s my job to keep everyone calm so they can perform to their full potential.
  7. Deal with compliance: understanding legal and tax situations and how the company is addressing them. Most of those tasks would apply to any company.

Delegating Tasks:

On more me-specific tasks- these are some that I expect I’ll delegate soon

  1. Approve large product or service purchases.
  2. Oversee the marketing site (our landing pages) and the strategy to improve it.
  3. Lead some of our new marketing experiments, once again, so I can understand them and then delegate them.
  4. Define salaries and benefits packages for our team, based on our company budget.
  5. Create and follow up on critical partnerships and business proposals. And a lot more stuff I can’t remember.

Top 3 Priorities:

Starting a company is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

If you are considering starting a business, you need to prepare yourself for what’s to come.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. I can talk all day about drawing boundaries and setting aside personal time, but the truth 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.