Silicon Valley Review S3, Ep1: Are You The Right CEO?
For any attorney who works with a lot of startups, the topics and dialogue in Episode 3.1 rang loud and true. Dealing with board meetings and interpreting governing docs, vesting schedules, and employment agreements is a daily pleasure around VW. But the overall message of 3.1 is that every startup founder should be asking herself or himself: “Am I the right CEO for this company?”
Very few startups are founded by anyone with real management experience, much less executive level experience. Running a company is hard work; running one that has to report to investors (shareholders) is a monumental task. Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to transition from founder/build mode to executive/manage mode. In my experience, a lot of founders ignore this. They are too immersed in the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks to be able to take a step back and see the business from a high-level. If they did, they might see that the business would greatly benefit from a dedicated, experienced CEO and a founder who is in a role more suited to her/his experience.
Evaluating your ultimate role in the company is a paramount exercise for every founder, and one that you need to be doing on a consistent basis; even if that means putting your daily responsibilities on hold for a time. This is a scary thought – ignoring the day-to-day from time to time – but you’ll never see the whole picture if you’re honed in on the details.
Know that it’s okay, even a good thing, for you to understand that you may not be the best CEO for your company. As you get close to your A round, you should really be considering this. Because if you’re going to hire someone, you want those funds to be a part of your Series A raise budget.
Put your company in a position to maximize returns to the shareholders – most notably you. Consult with your board and advisors about what you need to accomplish to get to a B round and, ultimately, to an exit. There’s a good chance that the answer is you. But if it’s not, be willing to accept that and actively engage in finding someone who is best for your company. It’s best for your employees, for your shareholders, and at the end of the day, for you.