You are a startup.
Let me guess you are the boss, chief executive officer, chief visionary, supervisor, team lead, head communication officer, head electrician, coffee maker…. Gosh, many hats to wear as you are a startup CEO.
Being a startup entrepreneur is the hardest job and you need to acquire a wide range of skills to excel. Report says, only 10% among the startups succeed, as the person needs to possess the right combination of skills and startup DNA. The most interesting aspect is that you wear these hats minus the salary.
When it comes to skills that a startup needs to possess, we feel a little puzzled. As a CEO needs to acquire a lot of dexterity, so to keep the business afloat, load your entrepreneur-ship with
- Clear vision of the goal where the ship is sailing
- Keeping a tab to feel the pulse of the industry and the competitive trends to navigate the business ship in the right direction
- Commanding team management skill to sail your startup employees along with you
- Be sociable
- Having the right speed to sail faster with the drift
- Distinguished sales and motivational skills
- Planning and budget guru
- Keeping the company liquid
- Do have enough fuel to let your ship keep afloat
- Be inspirational and have fun on your sail
Let me handle these points at this blog piece.
Vision is a skill more natural that startup CEO must possess to cross the finish line. The major force determining the entrepreneur’s success and serves as a compass in tough times. From the launch, a startup needs to grow their vision on how to monetize. The potential investors are going to count the first dollars. Therefore, you need to have a clear vision to have a good sense of what is going in the industry.
First step to set a vision is to make a business plan. The vision must get a shape to meet current solutions and pose itself as unique in the market.
Look out for competitive trends
Startups must stay on top of the key competitive trends in the market to navigate the entrepreneurship in the right direction. It is the duty of the startup CEO to keep a tab on the pulse of the economic condition, industry or competitive movements taking place in their niche any time and to respond back in the right time to keep the ship afloat.
Make sure that all employees are sailing in the same direction as you. You cannot have your technical man managing the accounts or operating person managing the sales. Everyone works hard to uplift your business, and your job is to look after how all staffs contribute in building the vision. You are consensus builder for the vision and will never be successful if you fail to buy into your team’s vision.
Often great startups work in his or her way into their organization to become sociable. However, powerful and influential people in the business are priceless and can open the doors to potential partnership. If you need to patch up with the high-level clients, startups need to know how investors think, how they speak or take decisions. Startups also need to inspire people, and give them the reason to follow up with the uncertain journey of the team members. As they sacrifice their work/life balance, salary cuts, limited or no health insurance etc.
Set the right speed
As a startup, you need to get things done quicker to reach the goals and milestones. Your startup can set the difference if you can move ahead of your competitors or if you are able to launch the product/service on time.
“Do not delay” is the mantra for the successful startups. You need to make the most of your time. It is said that faster you can make out the mistakes, learn from them and improve it, the better.
Be the motivator
Key execution requirement for the startup CEO is to turn him or her into a Chief Evangelist. Their skills include cheerleading employees, gaining prospective clients and investors who show interest in your business. Be that personality whose presence enlightens everything, but do not allow anyone sell anything to you, like Manhattan Bridge. So it important to note that you possess business judgment and intellect to come across as credible to parties involved.
Managing the cash flow
As a startup CEO, you need to put the key managers in place for hitting different goals. You need to build a management dashboard of the key drivers to dictate the success and the failure of the business. Figure out your key drivers and appoint the right team to manage the key points. However, most importantly you need to identify when things are not going to plan so you can put the new initiatives in place to make for the deficit. Fix the cash-using problems faster, to stop the liquidity runaway. On a higher note, you will run out of money and potentially fail in business, so plan accordingly.
Running out of capital is the worst thing that can happen with a startup. It is the CEOs job to make sure that the business concepts are clear enough to make adequate cash. The best person to solicit your business concept is your prospective investor. Ask your potential investor, why they prefer to fund your business, then firmly hit those targets. Raise money more than you need to have the material cushion when miscalculation takes place. Make the hard decision such as cut payroll or overhead costs, to sustain the company until the end.
Cash flow is the lifeline of your business. With inadequate capital, your business cannot take a leap. Successful startups are the ones who have sufficient capital to run their business operations. You must learn the skill to raise funds. You can increase the funds via equity or crowd funding platforms quickly, in some cases just in 60 days. It is needless to do those 8 months road show, which is tiring and ultimately unproductive.
Have the fun!
“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Take your time to make your startup entertaining. Well, pour your heart into the startup, which you will feel passionate and have fun during the whole process.
It is hard to find a perfect startup CEO. Every startup has their own set of skills, style and personality. All are looking for good opportunities and trying to think out of the box. They learn from their mistakes and fix them soon to face the challenges that come up eventually.
Jason Smith is a writer and a guest speaker presently residing in NYC. He is keenly interested in the changing face of global outsourcing economy. As a single dad, he often finds it hard to maintain the work-life balance but still manages to make time for his baby boy, his band and golfing friends.