The relentless pursuit of results through great experiences.

New Lessons as a Start Up CEO

When I began Sandbox there were things I thought I knew from being part of the early days at Spunlogic and X3 Sports, but life is a continuous learning experience.

Starting something from scratch vs. coming in after 1-2 years is a completely different situation. And there is definitely a big difference when you are the CEO. In fact Jeff Hilimire hits on some of this in his recent blog post.

Here are a few lessons I’m learning/re-learning:

  1. Be decisive – There isn’t enough time to waffle around and try to make the optimal decision all the time. Go with your gut, keep moving forward and don’t regret a thing.
  2. Determining when to make a decision vs. when to involve others – Sometimes people want their leader to make a strong decision (even if you are not sure if it’s the best direction) and sometimes it makes sense to get input. But too much input and too much thinking can be paralyzing.
  3. The buck stops with you – I’m used to being in situations when I was a leader with a loud voice, but that was easy because the implications of the decision didn’t ultimately fall on me. When you are CEO, everything falls on you.
  4. Time management is challenging – Going from 2 meetings a week to 4-6 meetings a day is a definite gear shift. I’ve never had to manage a calendar like I do now.
  5. It’s harder to be proactive – When you are getting pulled in a million directions it’s much harder to keep things moving forward. You have to be very intentional about being proactive.
  6. Patience, Patience, Patience - There are lots of things a mature company has (mainly more people to balance the workload and money). You want to be at a future state of a smooth running machine overnight, but the reality is things will never happen fast enough (nor should they sometimes).
  7. You gotta roll up your sleeves – This I was ready for and is part of the fun. But when you are used to having a staff around you, it can be a tough transition to start playing multiple roles.
  8. Cash flow and payroll – This is probably the toughest one. While I’ve performed a sales role in the past, I’ve never had to be directly accountable for bringing the money in and paying the bills. At first this was pretty overwhelming. I’m getting used to it, but it still isn’t easy.

What else? Anything I’m missing?

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