What Does a CEO Really Do, Anyway?
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Three essential CEO skills. Early on in his career as a VC, when one of Fred Wilson's portfolio companies was having a hard time and he was on the hunt for a new CEO when he realized he didn't have a clear or concise picture of what a CEO does. One of the company's board members replied: "A CEO does only three things. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to stakeholders. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank." And everything else you delegate. Do you think there are other essential skills for a CEO to have? Let us know in the comments.
Reviving New Orleans, one entrepreneur at a time. Five years after Hurricane Katrina flooded nearly 80 percent of the city, a new wave of entrepreneurs are hard at work helping to return the Crescent City back to its former glory. As Portfolio reports, the rate of entrepreneurs starting businesses in New Orleans is now higher than the national average, with 450 per 100,000 people starting businesses. Those new businesses have also helped to raise wages, which have grown 14 percent over the last five years, putting them on par with the national averages for the first time since the 1980's. The article details the struggles of a handful of entrepreneurs who learned to adapt and adjust to keep their businesses going post-Katrina. As the owner of a construction firm explained, "It was a totally new environment, so we were a totally new company, even though we're still the same name. We had to rethink everything."
Who's not using location-aware services? Almost everybody, the New York Times reports. Just 4 percent of Americans have ever tried a location-based service, such as Foursquare, Shopkick, or Facebook Places, which let people report and broadcast their physical location to friends - or everyone - online. Just 1 percent use them weekly - and that's mostly young men in urban pockets. Why are we so location-shy? For a lot of people interviewed, privacy can be a concern. Who has no fear? "The magic age is people born after 1981," said Sam Altman, chief executive of Loopt. "That's the cut-off for us where we see a big change in privacy settings and user acceptance."
Advice of an entrepreneurial father. In his latest blog post, serial entrepreneur Steve Blank shares the advice he's given his college-aged daughters on how to survive and succeed in what is still often a male-driven business world. Some of his main points: "There are implicit rules of competition and collaboration in companies," and "In most companies men set these rules ... They don't have to explain the rules to other men so it never occurs to them to explain the rules to women." And if they prefer collaboration to straight-out competition, "they need to understand what their career choices are," Blank writes. "There are plenty of other ways to be a productive member of society other than a position on a corporate org chart." Realistic or pessimistic?
Innovation is for everyone, right? Not so, contends Business Week's Pat Lencioni. He writes that only a limited number of people in "leadership" roles should bear the burden of innovation. Everyone else should focus on being "dutiful, enthusiastic, and consistent" about their jobs. By telling all of their employees to innovate, executives also run the risk of confusing workers and even stifling company success by creating chaos. Instead, Lencioni advocates a practice dubbed "creatonomy." A company with "creatonomy" has employees who do their jobs and satisfy customers in the most effective way possible, and don't necessarily contribute to how to run the business. The end result cultivates brand loyalty, employee charisma, and customer appreciation.
The name game. Sometimes, naming a business can come with hidden pitfalls - especially if done hastily. It might seem appealing to go with your first hunch, or first great website name, but experts say several major considerations should go into the moniker-making process. First, you'll want to be unique: a similarly named business could always slap you with a trademark-infringement lawsuit. Kori Stanton estimates she lost $11,000 in wasted marketing materials and incorporation fees after being sued and changing her cookie-company name. And what if your name is confusing to customers? The Wall Street Journal explores an array of potential pitfalls. Want to avoid them? Check out our guide on how to choose the best name for your business.
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.