This may sound a bit odd, but your job as the leader of an early startup is to prove you have a promising venture. Every business leader has ideas and anyone can whip up a website in a matter of minutes. Domains are easily purchasable, and people can draft landing pages in under an hour. As a matter of fact, entrepreneurs can even launch apps in as quickly as weeks now. Thanks to the bubble.io platform, creative marketers can spearhead tech projects without having an extensive IT background. But none of these realities automatically turn an idea into an enterprise worth pursuing.
The startup leader’s role can change daily, and the extent of effort you exert in each task can differ depending on needs and priorities. That said, it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly a startup CEO’s role is in the early stages. When you have a vision so vivid, you can be sure that you’re bound to wear as many hats as possible. You see, when you start monetizing an idea, you’re going to need to do anything and everything to convince more than yourself that you have an actual shot at creating a sustainable brand.
In all of that, there are at least three roles a startup leader will have to initially fill himself.
Client support and development
There is no secret sauce to successful startups. Marketing, brand ideation, business, and product development all rely on being nice and relatable to your target audience. Your team can extend substantial contributions, but at the end of the day, you call the shots and are obliged to present a thorough execution strategy. Fortunately, speaking with potential clients better helps you create a solid blueprint. When you know what your customers want and how they want it, knowing how to present your solutions becomes a tad easier.
We’ve all heard of stories involving failed startups due to a fragile social capital and poor communication executions. When you present something that’s designed to be consumed, you’re going to want to make sure that your consumers are satisfied and involved. Otherwise, what’s the point? You don’t have to be a beauty queen or a talk show host to understand that customer relationships and building rapport can spell massive differences in any kind of business.
When you’re a startup CEO, knowing how to speak to your market should be instinctual, not a daily reminder.
Hiring superstar players
Proving you have a business venture essentially means establishing a product people will shell out money for. Through product development and customer feedback, you’ll be able to gather customer experiences, gaps, and the kinds of solutions they expect. But insights alone can prove futile without comprehensive marketing and a clear-cut game plan. This is where employing the right people comes in.
When your startup is barely a year old, it can be tempting to hire people based on costs and the capacity to complete a task. But just because they can fill a spot well, doesn’t mean they’re an automatic fit for the business. As a matter of fact, choosing to work with the wrong people is one of the leading reasons startups fail.
Money aside, there are three things every startup CEO should look for when hiring team members: culture fit, skills, and a person’s individual vision. Remember that when you establish a business, you will also be responsible for creating a work culture. Find someone who shares the majority of your ideas and whose personal beliefs and behavior you can tolerate and trust.
On the other hand, skills, unsurprisingly, can help determine what they can bring to the table. Check their past projects and ask yourself if they can contribute anything substantial to your business based on their prior work engagements. Lastly, knowing what your team members’ endgames gives you a clearer picture as to how long and efficiently they can work with you.
As opposed to hiring emerging talent, hire recognized creatives and business visionaries instead. This may seem expensive from the get-go but having to oversee every single output from newbies can be more costly in the long run. Let your startup A-listers groom rising talents when you’re more able to afford a bigger team. When you’re still in the early stages, intern-minded workers can only weigh you down and delay your progress—something you can’t afford even more.
Monetizing your brand, vision, and product
Marketing is an evolving science, and every senior entrepreneur knows that. Sales, contrastingly, can only ever take off if your marketing is efficient, to start with. Whether you go for email blasting or online campaigns is up to you. What matters is you know precisely what advertising methods you’d like to tap.
When you’re still starting, a marketing professional can help build hype. But only you can expertly present and sell your solution, especially if your product isn’t entirely finished yet. This applies to investors, customers, and everyone in between who’ll initially be willing to bet on your propensity and resources to monetize a vision.
Lastly, your startup CEO role can also include account management, research work, legal work, sales meetings, making prototypes, networking, bookkeeping, and more.
The truth is, you’re no superman, and even if you were, it’s ok to accept that you’ll never be able to systematically handle all business facets on your own. Nevertheless, it also makes zero sense to hire every thinkable position at the initial stages of your startup. So get up, list your priorities, acknowledge what skills you’re not great, and find people who you can invite on your ship.