Whether or not you're the CEO of a fast-growing startup with an IPO in your future, you can benefit from thinking like one and following the same guidance to smooth the way for your own success:
Clean Up Online. Take a hard look at how you show-up online. Are you defining your online presence or is it being defined in your absence? Can a potential employer distinguish you from your competitors? You may not be interested in social networking platforms, however you need to recognize that recruiters and employers consider these platforms valuable research tools.
Focus On Execution. Employers, just like investors want to know you can deliver. Have you been taking on challenging or stretch projects at work, or have you been getting by on what you've always been good at? Does your work experience align with the opportunities you are seeking? If there isn't flexibility in your present role to take on additional responsibilities, think about volunteering with a not-for-profit or signing up for a committee at work. Consider unpaid opportunities which grow or enhance a skill-set such a leading a team or strategic planning.
Build Your Board of Directors. A corporate board oversees the activities of the company and advises the CEO--why wouldn't you want the same thing guiding your career? Surround yourself with advisors who will provide you with unfiltered, direct guidance as well as having direct experience and connections in the field you are pursuing.
Get Your Financial House In Order. The financial records of a company are put under the microscope during due diligence. Scrutinizing your own finances regularly, especially if you've got entrepreneurial ambitions, is a good practice. Do you know what your monthly expenses really are? Have you got enough savings to pursue a job-search fulltime or to launch that app? Before a successful IPO, you'll never have more power or greater financial options than when you have a W-2 so check your bank account and credit card expenses.
Show You're Ready To Scale--And Deliver. It is never too early to start creating the track record of performance - which is the only indication of what you can or will do in the future. Take responsibility and control for defining what you deliver as a leader and team member. "If only" there was more time or a better resources doesn't excuse an inability to deliver and is a poor indicator of leadership.
Project Your Ambition. Quite simply, you need to evolve your presentation to reflect your new positioning. Unless you are assured to have the next Facebook, a hoodie and sneakers (or the equivalent) is not going to convince the market you're pubic-company CEO material (or ready for career advancement).
Pursuing an IPO is not for every startup CEO, but thinking like one and learning from the highly scrutinized pathway to the public markets, should be.