You need to transition from individual contributor to manager. It’s no longer “all for one and one for all. Everything changes and it’s now, “be our leader”. You must transition from Founder to CEO. Funding is driving your growth and now your attention. Raising capital is starting to become a full time business in it self. It will consume your thoughts if not your time daily. Causal board meetings are moving to monthly report driven events where questions are pointed and reporting prized. Welcome to metrics and deliverable.
Presentations are the new product for you. You will be expected to “know” what to do. There are few templates, and if you find one, they will most likely be rejected in favor of what they know or are comfortable with. Investors are looking for you to sell all the time while leading them through your progress in snapshots. You’re now taking on all the duties of a business even though you clearly don’t have a grasp of the details. You are also personally accountable for the results, and the risks. You are getting on the start-up rocket and doing flight checks while reading the manual. Look back at my Founder to CEO post for an overview of the process, but much like real life, you have to experience each step along the way.
“When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.” ― David Brin
You are pivoting out of the moving quickly from idea to idea stage has to be matched with measurements and evaluations. You must remain agile. But you must validate the assumptions and changes in accordance with responsible change management. You need to insure teams and boards know and understand the risks and options. Only then can you establish accountability.
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
Being the founding CEO has special challenges. You are creating the culture of your company, hiring people to both fill needs and fits. You are often behind the ball and know less than you should. You will find that employees need your vision and help. Sometimes on the smallest of details. You will be asked to learn things about startup’s but spend no money or time on finding the correct resource. Boards start to ask you to lead them through your ideas and vision.
For the Board: Visionary Leadership
” Directors and trustees are responsible for the stewardship of assets and the owners of those assets hold the board accountable”
Notice this does not say running the company? As you grow up and take the company into accountability others start to include your forecasting and structures to support themselves to the monies they represent. They are counting on you to take the load off them giving them accurate and valid data. Where a board might have given you advice and leadership on the first founding of your company, they will retreat from that as you develop and grow. The details are too much for them and it’s really your job to lay out the case and show progress or lack thereof. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s you who suffers if they don’t support you. They will always hold you accountable for success and failure.
For the Staff:
Ultimately, you have one CEO and a CXX team made up of core team. Founding partners or key executives are not reporting directly to the board in most cases. Learn to guide everyone below you to roll up your reporting WITH you. Avoid the Sunday board packet crunch. Don’t pray at noon for what you should have done last week. Or better yet as a process of management. Have your foundation ready to go. Bring light but effective metrics to everyone in the company and roll up the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) on a weekly basis. Your last few days before a meeting should be fact checking and verifying your operational efficiency. Having this done with you on an ongoing basis will free you up to address more pressing or strategic issues at each board meeting.
IN the end, it’s you who stands with and in-front of the board and sells your progress. Sell everyday in every way up and down the ladder and will accountable if anyone, especially you, falls off.