Essential Skills For a Start-Up Company Founder and CEO
Hello. My name is Glenn Gow, I am a CEO coach who spent 25 years in that role. Today I’m going to be talking about how to grow your company fast, from the CEO’s perspective. Let’s assume you start as a founder. As a founder, essentially, you have to do everything. You have to document your ideas. You need to hire a founding team. You have to make amazing things happen with no money. Then you need to raise money. And if you have a three-person founding team, you’re doing 40 to 50% of the work.
Being a founder is very hard, and yet it’s a skill set that you can bring to bring that company forward. To help this company start. To help your company grow, the skills of the CEO need to change. This is a big challenge for CEOs. Scaling is hard because the skills that I just discussed that are important in founding a company are not so important or meaningful as the company grows. Let’s look at the next stage of growth, and what some of the issues and skills are that are important.
Raising Money For Your Company as the CEO
Next, you do your initial raise of money. Now you have some funding and you have to deal with those pesky investors. They are stakeholders. They’re important. It takes up some of your time. This is a skill you need to develop. Now you have money to hire people. You need to begin getting good at hiring. You’ve already hired the founding team, but now you’re expanding. In addition, you need to help your fellow founders learn how to hire. You’re gonna get deeply involved in product-market fit at this stage. You might be the product expert, you might be the market expert, but you’re gonna be deeply involved and have to understand and build those skills on how to create and measure and determine whether or not you have achieved product-market fit.
Establish Company Meetings with Employees
You also have to start driving company meetings. Now there are more employees. We might have an all-hands meeting now and then. We might have one-on-one meetings. We might have other meetings that didn’t use to exist when there were only three people.
Create Company Culture & Working Environment
You need to create a company working environment. Are you gonna have an office? What does that look like? Is it gonna be hybrid? What does that look like? How do we bring people together to work together?
This is the beginning of infrastructure building. Many CEOs are not good at this or don’t want to do this. And yet it’s a critical skill set. Now let’s say you’ve gone out and you’ve raised more money. Suddenly, you discover you are a minority shareholder in the company. Your board could fire you if they want to. This is a big challenge for a lot of CEOs when they get to this place. They’re very happy about the capital they’ve raised, but they’re not comfortable with this new dynamic of having to manage a board, a whole new skillset.
The pressure feels turned up quite considerably once this happens, promises have been made to employees and to investors on what this company’s gonna look like, what milestones are gonna achieve, how much you’re going to grow.
Now, you have to teach people on your team in this phase, how to hire and manage talent more so than you have in the past. In fact, you need to determine can these people actually lead groups of people, not just are they good at executing against the thing they’re good at? You need to understand what are the actual company strengths and weaknesses. These will become clearer, but now there’s a focus on understanding that so that you can manage against the strengths and weaknesses.
Something that wasn’t as important before now becomes a lot more important. And culture suddenly feels important, because culture is about leverage. Culture is about how the CEO can enable someone down the line to understand what they need to do in the moment. So culture becomes a focus of the CEO. Many CEOs don’t even think about this issue as the company’s growing, but it’s a critical success factor.
Scaling Your Company as a CEO
Finally, let’s talk about scaling. Let’s talk about what happens in scaling and what are the skills that are needed for the CEO to be successful in a scaling environment. You know, I remember the time I was walking through the office and I identified a person that I had never met before, and I thought, oh my gosh, what does that person do? I know I’m paying them money. I approved that hire, but how do I know that they’re aligned with the goals of the company? How do I know that they are performing? How do I know the investment I’m making in that person is gonna give me a much greater return than what it costs?
Establishing Alignment of Goals Among Your Management Team
Suddenly my focus changes to getting alignment amongst my management team, ensuring everybody understands their priorities and that they have clarity around what they are supposed to do. A much bigger challenge than when you have a smaller team. I spend a lot more time now in the scaling mode with my management team, teaching them how to scale. Because each one of them is now leading a team. Each one of them has to build a team that can get the job done. Many times they’re they don’t really have the skills to do that, and it’s my job as a CEO to transfer those skills, to teach them, to mentor them, to coach them on how to build a team because it’s their responsibility to look at talent acquisition and talent development now, much more so than in the past. So now I have shifted my focus to actually teaching the organization.
Improving Organizational Structure as the CEO
Then, you know what? Things break. I keep getting pulled into things that I keep asking myself, why am I getting pulled into this? And that points out insufficiencies in the organizational structure. And I need to work on that. I need to be thinking about the organizational design to ensure that the right people are in the right place doing the right things, and it’s not me who’s getting pulled in.
Make Sure You Have the Right People in Place to Grow the Company
And finally, are the people I hired in the early days the right people for the company right now? Very often, this is not the case, even though I want to keep them and I love working with them. They are not the right people to grow the company.
So these are some is for you to think about and how to grow and scale a company. My name is Glenn Gow. Thank you.
Contact CEO Coach Glenn Gow Today!
I love coaching CEOs and want to help make you an even better CEO. Let’s decide if we are a fit for each other. Schedule a time to talk with me at calendly.com/glenngow. I look forward to speaking with you soon.