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Zero to 100 - Part 7: The Role of the CEO


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Zero to 100 is a learning program from David Skok. It is a detailed instruction manual for how to take your startup from zero to $100m, with a particular focus on the area of building a go-to-market machine. So many of today’s founders come from a product or technical background, and have never been involved with sales and marketing. Right after starting their venture, they are hit with the huge problem of how to build their go-to-market organization and processes. It breaks the journey down into 9 steps, and explains why it is crucial not to skip steps in this journey in the rush to get ahead. The major emphasis of the course focuses on building a repeatable, scalable and profitable growth machine. Once you have that in place, you are ready to hit the gas and scale like crazy.

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Published in: Software
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Zero to 100 - Part 7: The Role of the CEO

  1. 1. [ ]THE ROLE OF THE CEO
  3. 3. The key elements • Vision & Strategy • Leadership • Building a team / Executive Recruiting • Prioritization and Focus • Setting the accelerator pedal • Operational management • Culture • Fund raising
  4. 4. Easy to overload you with too much content
  5. 5. So I’ll focus on one area where first-time founders often need help
  6. 6. Building a team / Executive Recruiting • Vision is easy – Execution is 10x harder • People are what drive successful execution • Building a management team is one of the most important jobs of the CEO • The bad news – it involves recruiting executives • Hard work • Lots of time required • Prioritizing this time over short term quicker gains is very hard, but essential for long term success
  7. 7. What is an Executive? • A senior level individual who can: • Contribute to strategy & direction • Execute operationally with excellence • You know when you have hired one, as you can start to sleep better at night! • They will offload major chunks of the business from your shoulders • Know what to do from past experience • Can make decisions on their own without needing your input • Can hire the rest of their team without needing much help from you • Produce results and solve problems
  8. 8. The Temptation • You’re the best person to do x, y, and z and know you’ll get the best results • So you keep doing them • Short term gains like closing a couple more deals seem more important than the long term benefit of building a team
  9. 9. Executive Recruiting – The big mistakes • Hiring them later than when they were needed • Hiring the wrong profile • Not a startup exec – not willing to get their hands dirty in the early days • Best startup executives like to start early and get their hands dirty initially before building a big team • Not aiming high enough • Aim as high as you possibly can and use your VCs to help you close
  10. 10. Final Reinforcement • Hiring the right executives will pay back in spades • Every first-time CEO who has completed this is amazed by what it does to their lives
  12. 12. Remember the Cash Out Graph
  13. 13. Avoid Underfunding - not enough cash to reach next milestone Time Valuation Next Key Milestone x Cash Out Date
  14. 14. Use the cash out date and financing milestones
  15. 15. … and Alignment
  16. 16. Fast Feedback Survey
  17. 17. APPENDIX
  18. 18. Vision • Set the Vision • Clearly articulate the vision • Stay close to customers, sales people, customer success people • Make sure it is working and relevant • What to avoid: • Don’t keep changing the vision and the goal posts • Common founder tendency: chase the latest shiny object • Organizations can’t get things done when constantly changing direction
  19. 19. Leadership • Communicate the vision • Employees • Customers • Investors • Press & Media • Inspire people to follow • Motivate during tough times
  20. 20. Setting the Accelerator Pedal • CEO needs to define the goals • And allocate resources (cash) to how you are going to get there • Ultimately there are key decisions around when to spend • The most common mistake • Spending too much before the business is ready in the hopes of forcing progress
  21. 21. Setting the Accelerator Pedal Scaling the Business Search for Product/Market Fit Search for Repeatable & Scalable & Profitable Growth Model Cash Burn We’ve given you the roadmap to avoid the common problems
  22. 22. Operational Management • As a company scales it needs an "Operating System” • Example: • Direction setting • Quarterly off-site meetings to discuss strategy and to set the high level quarterly OKRs • Flowing those objectives down throughout the company so that everyone knows what they need to do to contribute • Monitoring, Adjusting and Fixing where needed • Set of KPIs – the metrics that really matter • Regular meetings to review KPIs, discuss progress and resolve issues • Dashboards and alerting systems to highlight issues as early as possible
  23. 23. Culture • Culture has a very clear purpose: • Ensures that every employee knows how the company wants them to act in various situations • Can also be used to create a workplace that gets the very best output from talent • A couple of good example culture decks: • HubSpot’s Culture Code • Netflix Culture Deck