The CEOs of Today’s Successful Startups

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The CEOs of today are not the CEOs of yesterday. It’s a different business world requiring informed applications of shifting tides; those of global relationships, procurement supply chain requirements, digital information, and a host of convolutions that demand re-innovating change even as it occurs. 

Author Vijay Govindarajan, in his book,The Three Box Solution, (2016) succinctly relates the status of today’s CEOs, “Leaders already know that innovation calls for a different set of skills, metrics, methods, mindsets, and leadership approaches: they understand that creating a new business and optimizing an already existing one are two fundamentally different management challenges. The real problem for leaders is doing both, simultaneously. How do you align your organization on the critical, but competing, behaviors and activities required to simultaneously meet the performance requirements of the current business—one that is still thriving—while dramatically reinventing it?” 

The truth is change is a consistent factor for today’s CEO; while in past generations, change moved slowly, purposefully and after careful deliberation. When starting a business, how does today’s CEO prepare for change, in what ways can a CEO take advantage of change, and how can a CEO effectively lead change for the startup? Read on. 

Because today’s CEO can start a business in one week or less, preparations for the mechanical issues are minimal: establish a legal entity, receive a TIN from the IRS, obtain a business bank account and fund it. Done. Preparing the structure of the business is a completely different operation, and one that is usually ignored in the rush to test and market a product or secure service contracts. However, business plan examples for startups can indicate the best practice solution and preparation for today’s CEO and startup. 

A completed business plan will establish the foundation, set the groundwork for the startup, and provide guidance for years to come. In addition to stating the mission and objectives of the business, the business plan will detail an operational plan, financial forecasts, marketing strategies and relevant additions. The completed plan, along with a pitch deck, will serve as the tool to secure startup funding from investors or lenders. This fact alone makes a compelling argument for the creation of a business plan. 

Once the startup has successfully launched, how does today’s CEO take advantage of the changes as they come? Simply said, many CEOs don’t take advantage of changes, which can lead to failure… and nobody likes the “f” word. Today’s CEO is already grounded in speed, having survived the startup; when the startup is in operation, it is time to implement the flexibility required by small businesses. 

Whether opening a nail salon or leading a national firm, the CEO must seek adaptability and offer a positive response to conditional changes. For example, a startup introduced a product that sold regionally. A global product distributor offered to purchase 1.8M products IF the products were delivered within eight weeks. The CEO considered the offer for two minutes, then agreed, taking advantage of the sea change offered to the startup. 24M products were sold by that startup as a result. Today’s CEO will take advantage of change and seek to constantly reinvent the company.

In addition to preparing for change, and taking advantage of change, and how can a CEO effectively lead change for the startup? There are both pitfalls and opportunities within the position of leading change. Depending on staff members and their roles, the CEO will probably discover staff with a high degree of change resistance .They will not adapt to change easily. Other staff will be invigorated by change and seek it. To move a startup toward change, the CEO must first lead with transparency, as individuals will often become concerned about the viability of a business if change is in the air. Transparency and shared details will assuage the concern of staff members. Those who resist change will want to “keep things as they are,” or liked the startup better before it changed. Patience is the keyword for the CEO in this scenario and the transparency shared will lead to trust by wary staff members. The trust built in the startup between the CEO and staff members will prevail through changes after successfully completing the first few transitions. 

Today’s CEO is a quick-change artist; preparing for change, taking advantage of change, and effectively leading a startup through to success on multiple fronts. Today’s CEO is a visionary, a structural-builder and a staff counselor, already a leader for the days ahead. 

Also read: 10 Mistakes Every Startups Should Avoid to be Successful



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