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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
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Top customer reviews
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The book is well laid out, from starting the company to dealing with the surprise issues that come up and the unexpected priority changes as a company grows (believe me, there are many). Matt's been a startup CEO for a long time (since 1999) and survived 2 recessions and many changes to his company. His approach is solid yet at times unconventional, but all stem from his real life experiences and looking at problem-solving in his company through a fresh perspective, leaving no conventional wisdom unchecked.
Even if you are not a CEO in a startup, I would recommend reading this book. You might want to be one someday.
Matt rekindled the idea of blogging for me. I used to think of blogging as something to do when you aren't busing creating "real stuff". Matt promotes the idea of maintaining a public persona for recruiting purposes. He is also into transparency, and talks candidly on his blog about his work at Return Path. That's likely to be my goal in renewing my blogging efforts.
Transparency is a core value for Matt. He takes it a step further than most CEOs. Here's a recent example on his blog. I've always believed in transparency. What I appreciate about Matt's approach is that he describes the mechanisms to achieve it: 360-degree reviews, postmortems, admit mistakes, the "board book", and, of course, blogging.
Matt's book is a collaborative effort. He includes "cameos" from many other people at Return Path and a few outsiders, too. The contributions are excellent, and demonstrate Matt's commitment to teamwork.
This is a book about Return Path and some content is taken from Matt's blog. Some reviewers have complained about this. To me, it makes sense, because the context is necessary to show how the ideas work. Matt's blog allows him to user-test his descriptions of those ideas. Taken together, it's a cohesive and coherent story of Matt's career and life at Return Path over the last 15 years, warts and all.
Matt is a "systems guy". I relate to that. As you may have guessed already, his systems encompass everything in his life, including his "home operating system". Really? Yup. He talks about "anchors" like Friday night dinner at home and coaching a kid's sports team. These days it's necessary, especially if you are running a startup, like Return Path. While my life isn't nearly as complicated, I appreciate Matt's approach to squeezing "every minute out of each day". It's important when you have to balance everything.
One of the techniques I hope to implement is "just a second". Matt insists "on finishing whatever quick task or thought I'm working on before engaging" in an interruption. It's tough to do this, especially given that I'm such a pleaser. However, Matt has reminded me how important this is. You have to be interruptible, and you can control your task switching time so you are most efficient.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As a Return Path investor, Startup CEO increased my confidence in Matt as captain who knows keeps a tight ship with grace and style.
* 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.
My "musts" for reading books from the startup execution genre are: (1) must be current, (2) must be from someone who has been there, (3) must offer many well articulated actionable takeaways, (4) must stand out from other books in this genre. Taking lots of notes during the book because it is hitting bullseye on all 4 musts gets it 4 stars. The fact that I am already reading it again and recommending it to others gets it 5 stars.
Readers have a lot of options when it comes to the subjects Matt covered in his book, but his book is unique. Plus, given that I love to read, I was excited to learn about additional books which I have since added to my reading list - books that had a big influence on Matt. This book describes much of the execution necessary (plus execution necessary in a broad range of startup situations) once a company is ramping up through its growth trajectory into exit territory.