Being a Leader, Founder and CEO of a tech company, with a non tech background, has been an amazing journey. As a CEO/Founder working on a startup you go through so much, add the technical piece, well it is even tougher. As the CEO you have to play multiple roles including leading the tech team, making tough decisions, pivoting, and moving forward all at the same time.
Keeping the team focused is your main goal and that means you will keep them to deadlines, and make decisions that sometimes are difficult (‘hence the Iron Fist’). But you also need to bring balance to the team and keep the team motivated, and so you wear your ‘velvet gloves.’ You have to learn the balance of leading and motivating, even when you make decisions that are less favourable.
To keep the stress of leading and managing a business at bay, the most important thing is to laugh at yourself, your failures, and fears and make them your opportunity for growth. I have learned some things along my journey. I am happy to share them with you.
The four things you need as CEO:
- A mentor who has been there and knows the experiences you too will encounter. She or he can help you navigate your own growth as a CEO and the growth of your startup. Your mentor will be excited to see you grow, to meet with you and to provide you with their experience and education. They will give you connections and the introductions you need and be there not only in the tough times, but, to celebrate with you even the smallest milestones.
- A CEO group, and let that be a place where you can share ideas and visions, as well as talk about issues that arise.
- A group of colleagues and friends who can be supportive.
- Some great reading material! The books I recommend every startup CEO read are: ‘Jesus CEO –Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership’, by Laurie Beth Jones; ‘The 21 Refutable Laws of Leadership’ by John C. Maxwell;and ‘Leading So People Will Follow’ by Erika Andersen.
And here are 5 things I have learned as CEO of a tech startup:
- First and foremost you are the visionary of your startup – lead and keep the vision on course by empowering the team to execute your plan.
- As CEO of your startup, you do not have the luxury to pass decision making onto someone else. You are the leader and have to make a decision, whether right or wrong. A mentor once told me, you will learn from your decisions and that will give you new tools in your toolbox.
- Many times you have to make tough decisions. You make them, review after and move forward.
- The decisions are uncomfortable, and by making them you will grow and be stronger for the next challenge.
- You have the vision and idea, so it is you who will make it fail or succeed. That said, you need to guide your team to have the same level of passion and vision you have.
- Failure or success is part of the decision-making process. The more you accept this, the more you will grow.
- Entrepreneurs can be perfectionists, just know every decision may not have the outcome you expected.
Diane Najm is CEO/Founder of PhotoPad, Director of Founder Institute, a Mentor /Advisor to the startup community. She serves on the Board of Trustee at Olive Crest and on the Board of Directors for Women in Wireless and Women In Tech. Diane’s passion is advocating for the children of abuse. In 2012 she received the Ambassador to the Children Award – Community and in 2012 a Mom in Business Award.
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