As a solo founder you’re probably used to doing everything yourself - you can go from being the Manager, to the Cleaner to the Head of HR in a couple of minutes. However, as your company begins to grow, and you become more confident about your offering, with inbound requests, more users, accolades etc, it’s easy to feel conflicted on what you should be focusing your time on.
I know that was the case for me, as I bounced between filling companies accounts to making sure our branded cupcakes
where in a straight row - this eventually led to my work schedule becoming unpredictable and more reactive than I would have liked it to be.
I shared this concern with one of my Advisors, who told me it’s quite common for first time CEO’s to feel like this, and that my responsibilities are expected to change every 3-6months, but as the CEO I should be fundamentally focused on five core things - everything else can be delegated.
1) Vision: Spend time crafting a vision of where you’d like your company to be within 3-5 years. Ensure you are articulating and communicating the vision with all of your relevant stakeholders. You can’t just assume everyone knows what’s going on in your head - in fact, the moment you feel like you’re sick of your own voice, is the moment the vision is beginning to stick in the heads of others. Tasks can include, monthly email updates, pitches decks, team meetings, public speaking, vision reviews etc.
Map out the steps required for you to achieve your vision. A clear strategy helps to bring a sense of practicality to your vision and ensures everyone on your team is going in the same direction, with clear priorities, in a constant rhythm. The OKR framework (a goal system used by Google) is a great way to map out your strategy by defining your objectives and key results. Your objectives, are memorable qualitative descriptions of what you want to achieve and your key results, are a set of metrics that measure your progress towards the objective. Check out Gtmhub free OKR Playbook here
Ben Horowitz, mentions in his book (one my favourites ❤️), The Hard Things about Hard Things
, that CEO’s should be focused on hiring great talent, and delegating accordingly. As the CEO you’re not always going to have the time to be the executer of your vision, which is why it is important to build an A star team to help you get there. You’ll get far more leverage on your time if you hire people and work with them closely than trying to do everything yourself. Responsibilities can range from, writing job specs to designing an inclusive recruitment process. It’s also important at the same time to be nurturing your existing talent through 1:1 meetings and annual reviews.
This varies depending on the stage of your organisation, but the main focus here is to ensure there is cash in the bank - whether you’re speaking to investors
or closing client deals. Time here will be spent on pitch meetings, clients prospecting, cash flow reviews and A LOT of breakfast meetings with your accountant. I like using a tool called Pipedrive
, a sales CRM which helps me manage the company’s sales activities and monitor deals, and Quickbooks
for invoices and all the fun money stuff.
Product: Double down on your core skills, and focus on how to make your product better for your users. As a CEO 30% of your time may be focused here, whilst your team focuses 80%-100% of their time on the product. Spending less time on the product is always a hard decision for founders transitioning to CEO’s, but if you’re able to get the above four focuses right, you’ll be able to ensure your product is delivered to a great standard.
The difficult part of being a great CEO is that you have to be willing to let some things go, and fall apart. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to do everything well. And what that means is you’ll have to get comfortable with making hard decisions and understanding there are are some urgent things that you just don’t do … this takes time to grasp.
However, by creating a personal organisational system, in line with the five focuses you will be able to keep track of what you need to do and what everybody else is doing and what you need to follow up with them on. I’ve created a free tool below to help you build your personal organisational system, have a download and let me know how you get on using the hashtag#FSuite.