No startup has an easy road. With or without money you will face challenges. How you respond to the obstacles can contribute to your success or failure as a business. The bitter truth is, you are not going to be a billion dollar company or acquired in the next 18 months. That may probably not happen. Don’t count on it. But work to build a great company. Your job as a startup CEO is to lead a team to build a product that’s epic at something. There’s nothing worse than a mediocre product that’s “ok” at everything.
These are a few more pieces of advice for every first-time CEO.
1. Your team is everything.
2. Solve a problem you are passionate about.
3. Never outsource your core competency.
4. Be Lean but don’t be afraid to spend.
5. “Chase the vision not the money. The money will end up following you.” Tony Hsieh
6. Never eat lunch alone. Always be closing.
7. Ideas are worth sh*t. Execution is key.
8. Don’t take momentum for granted.
9. Learn to monetize from the get-go. [cue Notorious BIG – Get Money]
10. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
11. Focus. It’s easy to get carried away with multiple projects.
12. Stay uncomfortable.
13. Be metrics driven. You can’t improve what you can’t measure.
14. Not everything your customers want is what they need. Learn to read between the lines.
15. Consistently seek out constructive feedback.
16. Know your competitive advantage and stay obsessed over your competitors and the industry.
17. Be a thought leader in the space.
18. Move quickly.
19. Talk is cheap. Deliver instead.
20. Focus on customer service. Word of mouth is the easiest form of marketing.
21. Make something that you know people want.
22. Place a premium on aptitude versus experience.
23. Learn to say no (respectfully).
24. Trust your gut.
25. If things aren’t working, ask yourself why and change that.
26. Hire people smarter than you.
27. As a founder, you set the tone for others. Don’t forget that.
28. Say no a lot. Time is the biggest asset you have so use it wisely.
29. Make deliberate decisions.
30. Don’t lose sight of close friends and family. You don’t need to be a hermit just because you work a lot.
31. Don’t micro-manage. Nobody like that. People work better when they are left alone to do their jobs.
32. Start with “why?” to create a much deeper connections with your audience.
33. Bring out the greatness in those around you.
34. It’s better to own a smaller piece of a bigger pie than a bigger piece of a smaller pie.
35. Be humble.
36. Utilize your calendar and tasks to the max.
37. Tackle your most daunting tasks in the morning. Save the easier stuff for later.
38. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” Simon Sinek
39. Workout at least 4 times a week. Body and mind are one. Oh yeah, and get your sleep too.
40. Be authentic and transparent.
41. You will hit hurdles, push through and get ready for the next. Stay optimistic.
42. Ask questions.
43. Nobody should have a personal office. Open floor plans allow best for collaboration.
44. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. You should listen more than you talk.
45. Culture is crucial. Your employees should want to stay late and hangout.
46. Sell value, not products.
47. Always have an attorney glance over any legal documents. Speaking of, document everything so there is a record for all parties.
48. There is no such thing a part-time entrepreneur.
49. Learn to move on if you’ve exhausted all efforts. Be honest with yourself.
50. Take lead from success stories such as Dropbox and Instagram by doing one thing really well.
51. You can succeed, but often it is a matter of how badly you want to.
52. You will grow what you measure.
53. Do not mistake activity for growth.
54. There is no substitute for hard work.
55. Startups are a marathon, not a sprint.
56. Hire for passion over experience.
57. Create a product that’s epic at something.
58. “Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.” Paul Graham.
59. Your life is now a roller coaster and you need to stay focussed on the bigger picture.
60. You need to train your entrepreneurial muscles every day.
61. A start up is a race against time. Just ship already!
62. Your ultimate job is fixing things: Fixing product. Fixing relationships. Fixing money. Fixing sales. Fixing time. Fixing yourself. Fixing your team. Get used to it fast.