Plenty of people have lofty dreams: lawyer, politician, celebrity. These are some of the most common around, but they aren’t the only aspirations pushing people forwards. Just as many people wish to be a businessman/businesswoman. And most people in the business world hold onto a desire to one day climb the ranks and become a CEO. But why spend decades fighting to take over the position in a well-established company when you can just start a new one? It sounds great, but not everyone is cut out for it. So just what qualities do you need to have as a startup CEO?
One of the simplest qualities any startup CEO needs is the willingness to fail. This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s necessary. A person who is afraid of failure is afraid of risk, and there can be no large scale success without risk. Failure isn’t desirable, but to be afraid of it isn’t acceptable. You need to confront the possibility that things might not go as planned and then you need to keep going anyway. You have to move forward with low certainty at times and you must do so with no fear. You need to confront the possibility that things might not go as planned and then you need to keep going anyway. You have to move forward with low certainty at times and you must do so with no fear.
In addition to this, startup CEOs need to be willing to work long hours. Some people glamorize the idea of being a CEO as an easy position with a lot of perks, but that idea isn’t always true. Sure, some CEOs are passive within their jobs, but you can’t afford to act that way when you’re working at a startup. Everyone needs to be giving their job their all, and that includes the CEO.
As the CEO you also have to be prepared to make sacrifices. If you need to take a salary cut to hire more staff members then you do it. If you need to give up your big office to save space on rent then you manage. If you need to pay out of pocket for some office or work supplies then don’t complain about it. It’s especially important that you don’t complain about any of that. And do you know why? Because the CEO is seen as a leader.
You need to be confident on the outside, even if you’re terrified on the inside, because your tone and the way you carry yourself will influence every worker under you. If your staff sees you panicked then they’ll soon be panicked too. No matter what happens you need to act as though it’s just a minor setback. Freak out when you’re alone if you need to, but avoid public displays of stress at all costs.
Above all else, you need to be a decision maker. You can’t spend a week sitting on your hands and contemplating each move you make. A startup CEO has to take charge of situations and make quick decisions that serve their business well. Quick decisions that end in disaster won’t due, and neither will delayed decisions of any sort, even if they’re good ones. They need to be good, they need to be made quickly, and you need to be the one to make them. Think on your feet.