What does a startup CEO’s day look like?
I’ve served as the CEO (and founder) of four start-up companies. Two of them had successful exits, one was a complete failure, and the future of the final one (NUVIAD) is promising. The biggest team I supervised consisted of 46 people, and with everyone of them, we began as a group of 2–3 devoted individuals who had a same ambition.
The position of the CEO at a startup varies as the firm grows and develops. However, there are certain chores that are necessary on a consistent basis. Creating a team, communicating the goal, establishing the company’s culture, and inspiring everyone, even when some are skeptical are all important tasks.
You are always the one who puts in the most effort, and finally, you are the person who is held responsible for everything – particularly when things don’t go as planned.
When the company is just getting started, you take care of everything. From making sure there is coffee and milk in the fridge to designing the product and creating code, to monitoring the company’s financial flow, everything is important.
As the firm expands, you begin to delegate jobs to new team members, and here is where genuine people management becomes a more significant part of your everyday duties. It also implies that you have less and less direct influence over your everyday activities. As a result, putting together the ideal team and establishing the company’s culture from the beginning is crucial.
There are a few things any rookie startup CEO should remember (and the experienced ones already know): you can never have too much cash, you seldom fulfill your development deadlines, your sales projection is always too optimistic, and you constantly believe that the product can be improved. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, no product manager will ever be as intelligent as your consumers. Get your product in front of as many people as possible as soon as possible – it will never be flawless.
A few of years ago, I penned this piece. In the modern day, it seems to be relevant:
A typical day in the life of the CEO looked like for me at a period of high stress.
Despite my best efforts, my heart is racing too quickly and won’t calm down.
Despite the fact that it’s 3 a.m., I am having trouble sleeping. Again.
It is time for me to get out of bed and go to my workplace. In spite of the fact that the home is 72 degrees, I am shivering — it is the stress of it. As soon as I switch on the computer, I immediately check my email.
He did not provide the promised email from the new investor. Who knows why these men are unable to follow through on their promises. Why?!?
The time has come for me to return to my bed. My wife was not awakened, so that was a bonus. Maybe I’ll be able to get a few more hours of sleep before my alarm goes off in the morning now.
It’s five o’clock in the morning when the alarm sounds. And now it goes off just as I was about to fall asleep.
Move on to the basement to conduct some exercise. I’ll benefit from the workout. As I make my way downstairs, I am shivering.
6 a.m.: Complete your exercise. My morning routine includes taking a shower, shaveing, drinking a protein shake, reading the newspaper, and responding to emails.
My wife and daughter kiss me farewell as I get into the vehicle to go to work. When things are going well, it’s hard to tell how wonderful things will be on a terrible day. I’m not sure how fantastic this day will be…yet.
A call from Steve. A conversation with Steve is always beneficial. For the first time in a long time, we discuss about his personal life. I find it to be a useful diversionary tactic.
Starbucks is open at 7:30 a.m.. One must like the fact that a Starbucks is included in the convenience of a gasoline station. Alternatively, you may fill both your petrol tank and your internal caffeine tank at the same time. Genius!
In the workplace at 7:45 a.m.. My job entails responding to emails and making phone calls on occasion.
At 9AM, I’ll be meeting with a possible investor, who happens to be a legendary figure in the venture capital field. “I despise high-margin enterprises,” he tells us in an interview. Perhaps the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever heard in the name of fundraising is that statement.
All I can do is grin and go on with our presentation.” No way in hell are we going to get our hands on his money.
10:45 a.m.: Phone conversation with another investor By the end of the day, “Brett,” we should have a term sheet ready for you. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that phrase.
In response, “Wonderful,” I say.
11 a.m.: Meeting with the Operations team. Honestly, Dave and Shoba are on fire right now. As the demand continues to rise, we are able to keep up.
Indescribable is the sense of beginning something from nothing, seeing it develop, and then seeing your items being purchased by other people. It’s a wonderful feeling to see your team and other colleagues become more confident in their ability to achieve their goals.
The funds must be secured before they may be properly compensated for their outstanding efforts.
12-o’clock p.m.: I really want to speak with someone inside the organization about my anxieties and concerns. When you’re feeling sad, it’s tempting to go there, but you can’t. To get things done, I’m going to have to go for a stroll or leave the building. I’m unable to express my concerns to my coworkers and supervisors.
A stroll around our “campus” is something I decide to do. I’m still shivering despite the fact that it’s 75 degrees out there. I hope the shivering will go gone for good! Sadly, it will not be the case.
1.30pm – Meeting on traffic flow Discussion on the current state of our numerous advertising and marketing activities, as well as the development of our collateral materials. Mary, our public relations specialist Contrary to the world of bingo cards in which I began my career, today’s world allows you to measure everything – and we do it with great success.
oh, how much I like it! The number of people who visit websites is increasing. A significant increase in the number of sample requests has been seen recently. Sales are growing as a result of design victories. It is my team and I that take down the ads that aren’t converting and schedule fresh advertisements, collateral materials, videos, and blog entries.
Company meeting at 3 p.m. Recall that you must communicate both what is and is not intended by your words, Brett. If you don’t know what to say, the team will fill in the gaps.
Overall, the meeting is successful. The status of fund-raising, sales, and new product debuts are all kept up to date by me for the benefit of everyone. As is customary for the squad, they had excellent inquiries.
My office is open at 5:00 p.m. 5:45 pm One of my colleagues on the executive team informed me that a member of his team was concerned that I had scowled when he inquired about the state of sales.
It was my frown that got me into trouble.” That’s something I don’t recall.” My laughter was tempered by a sobering reminder: every word, every gesture, every frown, every time you raise your voice, every time you leave the office early, every time you leave the office late, every time you arrive at the office early, every time you arrive at the office late, everything you do is scrutinized by your coworkers.
That’s something I’ll bring up next time I talk with the group.
For the future, remember this.
5:45 p.m.: I open my email client and check it. That’s what I was talking about before.
Term Sheet is the subject of this document.
It is with great pleasure that my partners and I provide you with this term sheet…”
Euphoric, It is necessary for me to print the term sheet that is included here.
Walking out of my office, I can’t stop myself from yelling, “YES!” at the top of my lungs. When I land, I jump 2 feet into the air, much exceeding my previous vertical leap in the draft combine. That was a joke, by the way.
I thought to myself, “That’s not terrible for a 40-something-year-old.”
I begin by going through the terms and conditions of the contract.
Please, don’t make me feel bad. Why did you include that phrase? Why!
Added to the difficulties is the fact that
Everything seems to be so complicated. What gives? Why?!? The question is, what are our options for dealing with this?
Our primary investor and I discuss the issue over the phone and come up with a plan to resolve the situation. When a new investment is reasonable, it should be possible to make it work. In VCland, it is a huge if.
The only thing left is to figure out how to close this round.
It is your responsibility as CEO to ensure that your workers and their families live happily ever after. Nothing about you is important here. What matters is that they are involved. My only option is to find a way out of this situation.
7.30pm: I finish packing my belongings and go for home.. After 7 p.m., traffic normally begins to drop down, but I keep an eye on Waze just in case it doesn’t. Good. For tonight’s commute, I can take 880 to 280.
Home by 7:30 p.m.
Dinner is being prepared for my wife, daughter, and I. Our daughter’s homework is something my wife and I assist her with after supper.
My kid has just gone to bed, so I am catching up on email and other stuff that has to be completed. 9:15PM:11:30 PM: Time to go to sleep. I’m certain that I’ll nod off shortly after this. How long will I be able to sleep is the question.
3 a.m.: I awaken from a nightmare to discover that we were unable to finalize the financing. Across the room from me, my wife is fast sleeping.
The temperature is 72 degrees, yet I am shivering. Scratching myself is not fun. I despise it to my core.
To check my email, I get up and go to my office, where I switch on my computer.
As a result, I have startup expertise, but we must recognize that every firm and CEO is different. If I were to say that I had no experience in recruiting investors for a business while being the CEO, an Angel Investor, and an entrepreneurship professor at a university, I would be lying. It’s amusing, but it’s true.
Here’s what I can say: During the initial few months of a company’s existence, I typically spend a significant amount of time trying to understand the market and improving the product/service in order to better meet the demands of the market.
It is difficult to plan your time during this era since you are often need to act in order to handle everyday concerns.
Once I’ve validated my concept, realized how my business can offer value to the world, and determined how my startup can match (hopefully) with market demands, I can devote more time to creating my team and improving the product. I suppose this is a never-ending process.
Today, I am the CEO of a thriving technological firm, and I feel as if I play multiple roles in the organization at different times of the day.
Some of my job involves collaboration with the marketing team, and I devote around 60 percent of my time to this endeavor. Later on, I concentrate on the product and go out to meet our clients to learn more about their everyday concerns, which I then convey to my staff so that they can continue to improve the item. When this happens, I feel like I’m a member of the product team.
However, I always have time to…
(a) study more and read books on becoming an entrepreneur, biographies, finance, management, and other related topics.
(c) Consult with the rest of my staff. My door is always open, and I am accessible at all hours of the day.
Improvements in corporate operations and automation, as well as ensuring that we do more with less personnel, are all priorities.