Being the CEO of a startup is one of the most rewarding and painful experiences someone can go through. While it's rewarding to lead a team, create a vision, and inspire others, it comes with its costs. There is constant pressure for you to produce, and everyone else in the organization is watching you. On top of this, it is tough to get work done or to create a set schedule because of all the distractions you go through in a day.
One of the most helpful things I've learned as the CEO of my company is how important it is to limit these distractions. You have to be focused to avoid burn out or becoming overwhelmed as the leader, and focusing on the essentials in the best way to do this.
The problem is that sometimes distractions can seem like they are actually helpful. Soon, you find yourself becoming addicted to things that are not top priority for your business. Before you realize it, you've stopped moving your company forward.
Below, I'll list three addictions to watch for as the CEO of your company. If you aren't able to keep these distractions under control, you'll learn the hard way through the failure of your company.
1. Becoming addicted to fundraising
Getting money from investors is one of the best feelings in the world. When you get funding, you feel that your idea is validated. Since someone successful gave you money, you must be destined for success right?
While raising money can be key to success, it's important that you realize funding does not prove your business is going to make it. All funding does is give you time to prove our business model.
2. Becoming addicted to hiring
When our company got into the 500 Startups Accelerator Program, we had tons of bright applicants all over the world ask us for a job. It was great to think how many smart people wanted to join our organization. Unfortunately, I ran away with the process before learning how to walk.
Our company went from 4 team members to 16 in 3 months, and I found out the hard way the hardships in scaling your team. When you get past 10 employees, your processes must change drastically. If you don't make these changes, you'll go through your fair share of headaches.
This was a tough lesson for me to learn, but through the experience I understand why as the CEO you should only hire if you absolutely need to. If you don't, the organization will become inefficient, and people will have nothing to do at work. Instead, do as much as you can with a small team, and be able to say no to even the greatest applicant if you don't need him or her.
3. Becoming addicted to press
Last week, our company had a surprising appearance in Forbes. While it was definitely a cool experience, I made sure that our team didn't let it get to our heads. There was no major celebration, and I made sure we moved on to work as soon as possible once the article came out. It was essential that we did not let press become a distraction.
There are major benefits to getting into the press. Recruiting is easier, investors want to talk more, and your team's spirits go up. But while all this is great, it does not directly help your business. I'm not telling you to shy away from the press, but I am saying that should take it for what it is. Don't waste time chasing down journalists or hiring PR firms early on. In the early stages of your business, finding product-market fit is what’s important. Once you find a scalable business model, the press will follow.