viernes, 28 de octubre de 2011

5 Mistakes a Start-Up CEO Must Avoid

I've been a CEO for many years. Not the CEO of an awesome hi-tech company. I've been running a small advertising and marketing consulting agency, instead.

Even though these sort of CEOs make a lot of mistakes (I made quite a few, as well), with this post I want to talk about CEOs of start-ups that are supposed to change the world. CEOs whose main goal is supposed to create great product that improve people´s lives.

I want to believe that the first intention is good, but in many cases, many CEOs lose focus. Here I post 5 mistakes I've recently experienced as an employee of a hi-tech start-up. So please, if you are a CEO,


1- Get started with no money: Unless you are going to be the only one working for the project and can afford it, never involve a whole team promising that they'll get paid sooner or later. If you are going to need a team to help you develop your idea, simply get the money first through a business angel or a bank. Or, depending on the case, get them work with you, but being honest from the very beginning. Don't promise amounts of money you won't be able to pay.

2- Stay FOCUSED: When you created the company, you wanted to do keep it up! Many CEOs immediately get unfocused and start planning other things or remain focused on the market, the competition or on nothing at all. If your product is, let's say, an iPhone app, it's pretty obvious that you need to know how Apple is doing as far as the apps' market. But that's it. Once you know Apple is great and blah, blah, blah...there's no need to go beyond that. No need to be excited about their quarter results, their sales and all that. You are not Apple! You are a tiny company that will use Apple as a distribution channel. I cannot imagine a company producing wine being totally excited with Wal-Mart sales and quarter results. Of course they'll be glad that Wal-Mart is the best distribution channel for their wine, but they care just about how their wine sales are going. Period. So, again, don't focus on anything but your product...on the product you initially thought about.

3- Social Media Obsession: Yes, Social Media is great. I'm a marketing guy and I recognize that. Even greater for a start-up with limited financial resources. Use social media. I strongly recommend that. But, and now I refer to point number 2, keep focused on your product. It's no good if a CEO spends the whole day trying to get twitter followers or facebook fans or page views on his/her blog! If you spend the whole day doing that...who's actually running your business?

4- Human Resources: If you have a team that has been with you from the very beginning, fighting with you as if the company was also theirs, treat them right. Don't think it's an obligation for them to keep close to you even without getting paid just because they like the product. Motivate them! And do whatever it takes to keep them happy. Don't create a weird environment. Learn how to keep their moods up! They know more about your product than yourself!

5- Never give up: Running a start-up is not an easy task. In many cases, and though, raising money is not a business model (as I heard once from Rodrigo Sepúlveda), you depend on funding to be able to survive. Otherwise, your awesome product will be just a cool idea locked and getting old in a drawer! So, to avoid that, if the investor money does not come, but you can still get money from any other place, do it. Don't abandone the boat construction when you are about to finish it up and go out to the open sea. That will "kill" your employees both phisically and mentally.

Are you a CEO? How do you find this post?


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