5 tips for startup CEOs

May 5, 2010

Good news: You’ve come up with an idea, planned a new business, launched a product, and secured funding.

Bad news: Now comes the hard part.

Here’s some advice for those of you running startup organizations.

1.) Stay focused. Great entrepreneurs know what they’re going after and don’t let anything get in the way—including tangential opportunities that are best left to be done down the line. Keep your strategy and tactics simple and get the execution right. Hit your initial milestones before you branch out into new territory. Learn to say “no”.

2.) Get help. It takes a village to build a company. You can’t do it alone. Enlist the support of your investors, advisors, partners, family, and friends. These people make up your extended team. This is no time to be proud. Be aware of your weaknesses, and shore them up by getting help.

3.) Stop and reflect. Building a company is a bit like swimming underwater. You set your sights, dive down, and swim all-out and as long as you can hold your breath. But you have to surface periodically to breathe and get your bearings. With a startup, you have to stop swimming once in a while. You’ll need to see what’s going on in the world around you, make sure you are still swimming in the right direction, and take stock of your accomplishments as well as the challenges ahead.

4.) Track progress. Set quantitative goals for the business, make your extended team aware of them, and measure your results against your goals. It will help you stay honest with yourself and your stakeholders, and give you added encouragement to produce results.

5.) Adjust strategy. Chances are, the first strategy you follow won’t be the one that ultimately prevails. The trick is to stick with good ideas long enough to see if they can work, but be ready to let go of them before it’s too late. How do you know when it’s time? Use progress against your goals as a measurement and your extended team as judges.

What are YOUR tips for leading startup teams?