Saturday, March 31, 2018

Secrets for Successful Start up CEOs

A start up CEO needs a different skill set than a growth CEO or a steady state CEO.  In most respects it is a harder role.  Recently I was asked for advice.  I have found it very difficult to know what to advise - all start ups are different.  And by nature - entrepreneurship is uncertain and there is no one right answer.

Some rules and secrets on how to deal with things:

1 - You have no money.  What if the office needs vacuuming?  You vacuum it.  What if you do not have a vacuum at the office?  You bring it from home.  What if you have none at home?  You borrow it.   Ironically, the highly frugal times will be the fond memories (I recall sleeping in my car to save the motel bill, I always took food, never bought tea or coffee since they are low cost to make etc)

2 - Should you spend time on vision?  NO.  Vision is just something you wake up thinking about and think about on the treadmill and while driving.  Time needs to be spent doing.

3 - Who sells?  You do.  Partly because you need the sales but partly because you need to listen to prospects.  You need to hear what they are saying - figure out what resonates.  More companies fail from low sales than any other thing (close second - overspending - see rule 1 and third - low margin).

4 - No Magical Thinking.  Some CEOs imagine they will raise cash or make sales but they do not do the work to make it happen.  CEOs who succeed do the work.

5 - "Successful people do tough things".  We all like to stick with what we are comfortable with but often what will move us forward faster is doing the uncomfortable, out of our comfort zone tasks.  This requires eliminating excuscitis (We cannot do this until this happens, or this did not happen because that - in the end, the start up CEO is responsible for everything - even what happened to them that seemed out of their control)

6 - There is no serial.  Successful start up entrepreneurs do things in parallel.  Be a juggler. 

7 - Know the big important things.  For most start ups it is cash and sales.  Work on the big important - and deal with the little things in the gaps.  This ties to time management and is likely why I wrote my first book.  I struggled with the juggling so had to devise systems to deal with the volume.

8 - Study and learn but filter advice and what you read/watch/get coached on.  I see many start up CEOs fail because they think they know it all.

9 - Your title is janitor/receptionist/sales person/order picker/shipper/customer service/accountant/collection clerk/delivery driver etc.  Do not fall in love with title.  Many start up CEOs like the title but not the work it takes to build a company.  If you want to be more than these titles - make money so you can build a company to do some of the other tasks.

It is all about being effective.  This is the focus. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Clocks and Life Forward

I had a wasted day yesterday.  Or perhaps a better way of looking at it was I relaxed and recharged.  One article I read (while wasting time reading) was on how much time we waste reading and how so much of it is pointless.

I do know reading politics these days is stressful (even though I do not do politics) and mostly pointless.

I have never been more excited by what we are doing at Danby Appliances.  We have a lot of innovation happening.  One new product is the Danby Fresh herb grower - an appliance that allows people to grow wheat grass, cilantro, parsley, lettuce, basil etc indoors all year.  And a great plant starter.

Being excited by work is one of the best ways to have energy.
Here is an interesting NPR article on job automation.  The job issue is a complex one.  I believe in the value of work and the respect that comes from being able to earn a living.  I also believe in free markets.

I like the gig economy (things like Uber, AirBnb) that allows people to earn extra money.  I worry though when those are the only jobs people have and can they get by on those.

And in the end, I believe in entrepreneurship and think people should be allowed to start and run businesses.


In the spirit of moving the clocks forward, I thought I would share this article on sleep.  One of the regrets I have from my first book on Time Leadership is I suggested sleeping less was a good idea for productivity.  I now disagree with that.

I like new years.  I reflect and change.  Clock change time is also a good time for that.  I reflect on what habits (good and bad) I have and changes needed.  I work out quite a bit but am thinking I could always up my game.  Sitting here blogging might be my way of avoiding getting to the gym (although I am dressed to go and all packed which is one of my tricks to make it happen)

And a book suggestion  - American Kingpin, The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road – Nick Bilton

I found it to be a page turner.

Hopefully not to give you business ideas - but just for interest. 

From a trip a while ago - my grand daughter - Tabitha.