Are you the CEO of a new startup?
Do you sometimes feel out of place?
Do you feel you have taken the wrong step?
Every New CEO feels the same way.
And hence, we have got a few simple pieces of advice for you to hold on.
Find a couple trusted, experienced advisors/mentors. Most people in the startup community are pretty willing to give advice and assistance, and having people to talk to who have been through similar situations can be very helpful. That said, don’t be afraid to make your own path and listen to your gut.
Be really picky with your hiring, and hire the absolute best people you possibly can. People are the most important component of almost every business, and attracting the best talent possible is going to make a huge difference. Quality and quantity of output is not linear. E.g. one rockstar programmer can produce much better code than two average or slightly below average programmers. Throwing more people at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it faster, but it definitely costs more. So hire the best people. (And if you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to let them go.)
Start simply, prioritize, and maintain focus. Embrace the minimum viable product philosophy. As CEO you’re responsible for steering the vision of the company, including setting long-term goals for your eventual total world domination. But to get from A to Z you first have to get from A to B. As tempting as it might be, don’t try to do everything at once, because you’ll end up spreading yourself way too thin and not doing anything well.
Don’t give away equity too easily. When you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of cash, it might seem like compensating people with equity is very cheap compared to having to pay them an actual salary, but in the long run, equity is one of the most expensive ways to pay people. Also, you want to have enough in reserve so that as you grow and want to attract top talent you can give them a meaningful equity incentive. And whatever you do, make sure there are vesting schedules, even for co-founders. You don’t want someone walking away with 40% of the company 6 months in.
When fundraising, ask people for advice, not money. If you ask for money, you’ll end up getting advice, whereas if you ask for advice it’s a chance to engage people and get them excited about your company and product (which, if you’re doing it right, should lead to people wanting to invest).
And the most powerful sentence you can keep in your pocket:
Don’t be self-conscious.
You are going to go through periods where you feel like you’ve made a big mistake. As your friends progress along more established paths, you’ll often feel like you’re falling behind. Get comfortable with it. It’s the life you’ve chosen. And when you do go through those times, just remind yourself that you won’t be the one, fifty years from now, telling your grandkids you wished you tried starting a company.