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Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website Hardcover – September 3, 2013
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From the Inside Flap
Whatever industry you may be involved inwhether it be architecture, medicine, or technologyscaling up your business can be one of the most difficult endeavors you may ever face. And in most cases, as the company grows, so will your role in it. Being a CEO is an incredibly complex job at any size company, but it can be especially challenging if you're part of a startup. In this case, you really don't have the luxury of making costly mistakes while learning on the job.
Back in 1999, author Matt Blumberg, a technology and marketing entrepreneur started a company called Return Path that later became the driving force behind the creation of his blog, OnlyOncebecause "you're only a first-time CEO once." Now, with Startup CEOthe third book in the Startup Revolution seriesBlumberg shares his experiences that led up to that point and discusses the details of this extremely difficult and unique job. Whether you're currently the CEO of your own company, an aspiring entrepreneur, or thinking about your own career development, the insights found here will put you in a better position to succeed.
Divided into five comprehensive parts, this reliable resource skillfully puts the essential elements of this endeavor in perspectivefrom the startup stage, through the revenue stage, and into the growth stage. Along the way, you'll gain valuable knowledge on:
- Part I: defining your vision of the startup and effectively communicating it to all stakeholders
- Part II: running the people side of your company, from creating a culture and the full cycle of employmentrecruiting, hiring, and retaining or firingto the growing challenge of managing remote employees
- Part III: the key elements of execution, including the specifics of financing the company and budgeting, running great meetings, and setting goals
- Part IV: the main aspects of managing a board, from recruiting members to working with them on potentially thorny topics like their performance or your compensation
- Part V: managing yourself so you can manage others, including creating your own operating system; working with an executive assistant, executive coach, and a peer group; and balancing family and work life
Startup CEO puts an emphasis on practical application. To that end, this book provides readers with exclusive access to a companion website filled with supplementary materials, allowing you to continue to learn in a hands-on fashion long after closing the book.
Being a startup CEO is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have. But if you're motivated, creative, and enjoy building things, it's also the best job in the world. Startup CEO will show you what it takes to make it in this positionand while it may not have all the answers, it can help you figure out the questions you should always be asking.
From the Back Cover
Praise for Startup CEO
"One of the key principles of the Lean Startup movement is that entrepreneurship is management. In Startup CEO, Matt Blumberg provides a comprehensive guide to every facet of entrepreneurial management. An essential and practical guide for entrepreneurs everywhere."
—Eric Ries, author, The Lean Startup
"There's no silver bullet for building a great company. Startup CEO deciphers the challenging, complex, uncertain, and oftentimes lonely role of a first-time CEO without oversimplifying it."
—Ben Horowitz, cofounder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
"I've been on Matt's board for more than a decade, and I've watched him develop into one of the finest CEOs I've had the pleasure to work with. With Startup CEO, Matt allows other entrepreneurs to profit from his years of experience and emulate his remarkable example."
—Fred Wilson, cofounder, Union Square Ventures
"There is the one-in-a-million company that catches lightning in a bottle and grows like a weed without care and feeding. For the rest of us, there's Startup CEO, the how-to manual for getting there the old-fashioned way. This book will be your coach, mentor, and advisor in any situation you or your company are likely to encounter."
—David Rosenblatt, CEO, 1stdibs
"Startup CEO is the definitive book for any CEO—first time or otherwise—of a high-growth company. While dozens of books have been written about starting businesses, it's time for entrepreneurs to focus on scaling them. Matt shows them how."
—Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group
Top Customer Reviews
This is just to give you some context when I—like another, earlier reviewer—say I found this overly basic without much that was useful for me. I understand that many startup founders have no substantial management or leadership experience when they get started and perhaps the book is more useful for them.
Why do I say it was too basic?
Take the chapter on hiring, "Fielding a Great Team". If you've done any hiring before the advice it gives won't blow your mind: pay attention to cultural fit, find outstanding specialists, complement your weaknesses, don't get suckered in by resumes, let your team have input, on-boarding new hires is important.
There are sections on running a productive offsite, on having skip-level meetings, on weekly 1-1s, on how to run a great meeting (have an agenda, start & stop on time, have clear next steps at the end), on OKRs, on terminating employees, on managing remote employees, on how to handle promotions, and more.
The advice given isn't bad at all but it is all things that I think most people with previous non-startup leadership experience will already know. If you've lead a team of 50 then chances are you've had remote employees, you've been to many offsites, you've had to fire underperformers, etc.
What I would like to see improved or changed to bring more value? Startups change rapidly so the structures and processes you put in place this month may not be the rights ones in three months. What do those changes look like? What does the timeline look like for various things? What is it like when you go from having 1-1s with everyone in the company (because there are only 6 of you) to have having your first level of management? What is it like as your "executive committee" evolves and goes from you and and your co-founder to (eventually) 20 people from a variety of functions.
In the section on CEO communication it says, "hire a head of communications you can trust". Okay, but should I do that when I have 10 employees, 50, 100, or 500? What should their team look like? Return Path (the author's company) has around 500 staff and a "Senior Director of Global Corporate Communications". The title of director means they have managers reporting to them. Assume a span of control of 5—the director has 5 reports, each manager has 5 reports—so does that means a team of 25 in corporate communication for Return Path's 500 employees? How does that team grow over time? How do their roles and responsibilities change over the years as the company grows?
I would have also liked to have seen more guidance or rules of thumb—based on the author's experience—for the hard decisions leaders need to make. In the section on growth vs. profit he says, "you should be investing money in growth only if you are reasonably confident the investments you make will pay off". Is there anyone who doesn't believe that when they make those investments? The problems are that people delude themselves or look at partial evidence or misread the evidence. How does someone become "reasonably confident"?
Random note: probably the weirdest passage in the book is the section on "how to impress your boss" that closes by saying, "you will get a raise and a promotion sooner than your friends". Isn't this book for the CEO? Who is going to give them a promotion? Who is going to give them a raise?
All in all, if you're an experienced leader you probably won't find enough meat here to satisfy you.
* It's written in a pragmatic and engaging style, without jargon or filler.
* It includes actionable tips and frameworks for all aspects of managing a company.
* It has soul. It's not just about increasing wealth. It's about doing that while being mindful of your emotional and mental health. It doesn't leave out the team either. It's written with the full understanding that we're people, not just entrepreneurs.
* It's got a lot of great contributions from other experienced entrepreneurs, so you don't feel caught up in tunnel vision.
* It's humble. This is very hard to do when you're writing a book about ways to be a great CEO. Matt has pulled it off. It's written from an earnest and earned perspective. There is no arrogance.
It's proven a great resource so far, and I've recommended it to non-CEOs too.
Thanks for writing this Matt. It's helped a lot already.