Advertising
Advertising

5 Common Habits of Effective Startup CEOs

5 Common Habits of Effective Startup CEOs

Being the CEO of a startup is a lot of hard work. You need to manage the inevitable chaos, wearing multiple hats as a leader,[1] a thinker,[4] and a doer.[2] It can easily be overwhelming when you need to balance everyday tasks alongside the “big picture” tasks that drive the vision and the future of your company.

Once a startup gets some traction, CEOs have to transition from “doer-in-chief” to leading the company and managing the big picture projects, products, cash flow, team culture, and generally becoming both the metaphorical anchor and captain of the ship. But when your company gets to this point, how do you remain an effective CEO?

Any CEO of a startup will tell you that there is no “typical” workday, but after doing some research I’ve found that many CEOs share quite a few habits that make them successful. Let’s take a look at these common habits and how you can use them too.

Organize A Schedule

One habit (some might call it a skill) of effective startup CEOs is to get organized. Really organized. They’ll make a daily schedule and follow it religiously.

Jason Zook, of Jason Does Stuff, is a vocal advocate of time-boxing.[3] He claims that “blocking off time on my calendar keeps me laser focused and highly motivated.”

Advertising

Kate Finley, CEO of Belle Communications, prefers to color-code her schedule,[5] assigning different colors to big-picture topics and scheduling blocks of time for social media, emails, project development, meetings, and even exercise and personal time.

An hourly schedule can prevent you from getting distracted from random tasks while giving you peace of mind that you’re spending dedicated time on your company’s needs. Find the best time to schedule out your day and make this skill a habit.

Compartmentalize Company Needs

One of the things that we’ve noticed effective startup CEOs do is that they successfully compartmentalize the different needs of their company. They focus on the specific areas of their business, setting aside time for product development, team building, and financials.

Fetchnotes CEO, Alex Schiff, has a daily meeting with his team. Schiff says this time is critical for his organization, in that it provides a “cross-functional view of what’s happening in the company.”

Finley takes time daily to work on media relations, team and project development, and general communications, while Ryan Carson of Treehouse compartmentalizes business needs by day. He meets with one manager to review product needs on Mondays, while saving sales and marketing for Thursdays.

Advertising

By blocking out time for managing your team and different departments you can be sure that you’ll cover all of your big picture needs while saving time for those other random tasks that inevitably arise.

Do Deep Work Early In The Day

More than one CEO, we found, prefers to concentrate on big-picture business strategy in the morning while leaving meetings for the afternoon.

Says Finley, “I find that [mornings are] best to get the majority of my work done before noon and save time for meetings later in the day.” Michael Karnjanaprakorn, head of Skillshare, goes so far as to schedule meetings only a few days a week, to maximize time for deep work and planning.[6] Once a month, he assesses his calendar and reviews what meetings are upcoming and cancels the inefficient ones. Karnjanaprakorn claims that this process “allows me to be proactive and control my time, instead of being reactive to my calendar.”

Make sure to carve out some space in your schedule in the mornings to do the most important strategic work, while your focus and willpower[7] are at their peak. Review your calendar regularly and cut out or reassess what’s ineffective.

Make Time For Family And Celebration

Startup CEOs know how important it is to take time for personal needs, family time, and celebration.

Advertising

Ryan Carson includes family time[8] as part of his daily schedule. Schiff makes time for fun with his team,[9] taking them out for laser tag after the successful completion of a major milestone.

Karnjanaprakorn uses a concept from Tim Ferris called “screen-free Saturdays,” where he refuses to work on his laptop or computer and only uses his smartphone for maps and communication with friends and family.

Separating yourself from your work can give you a much-needed mental break and allow you to approach the next work day – or the next week – with a fresh mind. Again, the easy task is to make more work for yourself; the hard task is taking some time to enjoy your success and spend time on yourself.

Give Your Schedule Space For Reflection

Startup CEOs know that it’s important to take care of themselves because it’s easy to feel like there’s always more work to be done.

“I like to have some time to myself free of office distractions to map out an agenda for what I want to accomplish each day. If I don’t, I find that I’m victim to the whims of whatever random task pops up,” says Chris Myers,[10] CEO of fintech BodeTree.

Advertising

There’s always something on your to-do list, and it can be difficult to turn off that part of your brain, even for a short amount of time.

Taking time out of your day to meditate,[11] reflect,[12] journal,[13] or just decompress,[14] is an important factor for success. You’re nurturing both physical and mental well-being, which will do nothing but benefit you and your startup in the long run.


In brief, successful startup CEOs make the transition to a flexible, organized position and focus on the big picture, leading their teams to success. Depending on your personal habits and schedule, create a system that works best for your needs, while saving time to enjoy your hard work.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Keith Shields

CEO, Designli

woman-on-computer-startup 5 Common Habits of Effective Startup CEOs 10 Signs That You Should be An Entrepreneur and Start Your Own Company Have An App Idea? Here’s Where to Start 4 Ways Millennial Entrepreneurs are Displacing Start-Up Norms

Trending in Entrepreneur

1 5 Books You Must Read if You Want to Be a Millionaire in Your 20’s 2 8 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months 3 15 Best Entrepreneurs Books to Start Reading Now to Be Successful 4 The Secrets of High Performing Teams: 9 Tips from Top Business Leaders 5 Advice for Entrepreneurs: How To Find A Mentor Worth Listening To

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 25, 2019

How to Ace an Interview: 10 Tips from a Professional Career Advisor

How to Ace an Interview: 10 Tips from a Professional Career Advisor

Wondering how to ace an interview? In this article, you will learn everything you need to nail your dream job — from resume submission to the end of the interview cycle.

In order to land a job interview, you must start with submitting a great resume. Submitting resumes is generally done by, “apply now”, the way many apply for consideration to a job requisition. Even if not applying the tradition way, let’s say, emailing someone in your network about an opportunity- you will still need a great resume.

So first thing first, work on your resume.

Today in the United States, 98% of organizations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to extract information from an applicant’s resume to build a digital applicant profile that can be searched, filtered, and/or ranked.[1] So, a resume that is ATS friendly is part one for landing and acing a job interview.

To do this, a resume must have certain formatting and keywords to get the resume through the scan and into the hands of a recruiter. Without a resume that works with and for today’s technology and requirements, an interview can be difficult to land.

Here’s a great DIY Resume Guide (Do it Yourself Resume Guide) to help you craft an ATS and Recruiter friendly resume:[2]

There used to be a time where a job application was enough, today, an ATS friendly resume leads all methods in landing a job interview.

Advertising

Now, let’s talk about acing that interview.

A job interview is part 2 of the job application process. An interview is where applicants that have met the minimum requirements are selected to discuss the job opportunity with the employer or hiring manager.

Interviews are generally conducted via telephone, in person, and or applications/technology such as Skype. When the interview is landed, these 10 tips will help you ace the job interview:

1. Going for a Job Opportunity That Speaks to Your Passion

Having a passion for the job/ industry is extremely important. Doing something that aligns with inner passion is important for quality of life.

People that have passion for the job that they are interviewing for generally have better interview experiences. When we talk about what we love, it is seen in our faces, our body language, and heard in our tone. Here’re 10 Reasons Why Following Your Passion Is More Important Than Money.

In short, consideration of talents, discovering the things that make you happy and sad, and what you love losing yourself in.

2. Study the Job Description: Essential Job Functions and Qualification Requirements

Doing this will allow you the opportunity to develop examples of past and present experience that relate to the essential job functions and required qualifications.

Advertising

Examples of experience is always a plus for interviewers, painting a full picture goes a long way. Even when not asked for an example, it is always a plus to tie answers to interview questions to examples from your experience.

If there is a portfolio (work samples: images, writing samples, published work, videos, awards, etc.) of work- that’s even better!

3. Research the Company and the Interviewer(s)

Being an employee means entering into a relationship with an employer. In many areas of life, research is done prior to committing; researching a company prior to an interview is no different.

It is important to determine if the company is a good fit and therefore makes it easier to answer “why do you want to work here?” It helps better verbalize how past experience, skills, and values align with the company’s mission, and it shows the interviewer that you are interested in more than just a job.

4. Think Positive and Tap into Confidence

Positivity exudes confidence and both are necessary, so the employers knows that trust can be given.

Thoughts lead to action, therefore, operating from a positive perspective will reveal confidence. The goal of the interview is to land the job offer; employers need to believe that you believe in yourself so that they can believe you. Here are a few tips for positive thinking.

5. Have Copies of the Resume Used to Apply for the Job

It’s always good to be ready for extra interviewers in the room; many interviews today are panel interviews/ multi-person interviews.

Advertising

Though a resume was likely submitted with the application, it is always a good idea to come with extra copies in anticipation of the potential need. If there was no resume submission, it is crucial that you provide a copy during the interview; doing this shows the employer preparedness and resolution to challenges.

6. Plan for Behavior Based Interview Questions

Most companies use pre-selected questions, often times having a list of behavior-based questions. Usually these questions start with: “provide an example of”, “tell me about a time when”, and/or “describe a time/situation when”.

Having examples of problems solved and strategies used, initiatives led, contributions to teams and departments, will help ace a job interview. Painting a picture to help employers see skills, qualifications, and experience is extremely important during a job interview.

7. Make a List of Selling Points

It’s important to be proactive about the selling points that you want to make in an interview. This is where a portfolio works great! It is a great idea to make a list of selling points that reaffirms and demonstrates skills, qualifications, and experience.

Consider: awards, programs/ processes launched that led to cost savings and/or profitability, training/education, etc.

8. Showcase a Mixture of Personality and Professionalism

Companies like to make sure that interviewees are a good match for the company culture. Having a good balance of personality and professionalism during a job interview is key.

Personality can be shown when discussing hobbies, community service or extracurricular activities in answers to behavior-based questions, when describing your passion, and when discussing selling points.

Advertising

9. Have Your Questions Ready- Interviewing Isn’t One-Sided

Interviews are two-sided, like all relationships (an employee and employer agreement is a type of relationship). Before entering in many relationships, we all have a set of questions that we need answers to, prior to making the decision to commit.

Beyond doing this for self (because asking questions helps reduce doubt and uncertainty), it also shows the employer that there is interest in the company and its future and, shows that you are informed.

Here are a few considerations: “Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?”, “Why is this position open?”, and “What qualifications/ skills are important to succeed in this role?” You can also take a look at this guide for more idea: 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

10. Follow-up with a Thank You Note

Interviewers love gratitude. Sending a “thank you for taking the time to discuss the job opening with me”, is very important to acing an interview.

Interviewers discuss one job opening with many applicants. A thank you note can serve as gratitude and the final chance to showcase selling points. This is also the opportunity to address any concerns that the interviewer may have had in the interview.

Summing It up

Consider a job interview a house. the foundation for acing a job interview is passion. The frame is a resume that lands the interview. The plumbing and electrical are showing up with confidence, providing a list of selling points, having examples of your experience and qualifications, and engaging the interviewer. The roof is showing gratitude with a thank you note.

More Tips About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Jobscan: What is an Applicant Tracking System?
[2] Veronica Castillo: New Job- DIY Resume

Read Next