As opposed to working in a corporate environment, in startups adaptability is crucial.
One of the reasons I love being an entrepreneur is that there’s an infinite amount I can learn that will help my company. As the CEO, I have the freedom to learn how to build, sell, and market our software. As opposed to working in a corporate environment, in startups adaptability is crucial.
You have to be able to change gears quickly, and pick up a new skill on the fly. It can be daunting, but at the same time there’s no better feeling than seeing progress through learning.
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Below, I’ll list three skills that are crucial for tech founders, especially CEOs, to learn. Also, I’ll go into how you can pick up a foundation for these skills as fast as possible. An important thing to remember is that you do not have to become an expert; just having a solid understanding of the basics goes a long way.
1. The ability to pitch your product
It’s wild how many tech focused founders disregard the importance of being able to pitch. With the belief that the product is core to everything, many founders think pitching is just one of many distractions. And while I agree that pitching can be a distraction, the lessons you learn from it help in all aspects of business. When you experiment with how to sell your startup, you learn about what your company does that excites people.
You also learn how to not ramble. Talking too much to explain your company is one of the most annoying things that many founders do. You need to get to the point fast, and take out all the fluff. Pitch contests where you have less than 5 minutes force you to do that. Overtime, it becomes second nature selling your product to whomever you need to.
2. The understanding of how your product is built
I am not a believer that every tech founder needs to be an exceptional developer. With that said, every founder should know the basics of how his or her product is built. This can be done by reading product management books and going through coding classes.
The other recommendation I would have is to read books like Scrum. This will allow you to increase productivity among your development team even if you have no experience. Learning to become an expert developer doesn’t make sense if you have great developers already. What does make sense is knowing the ins and outs of the entire process, then looking for obstacles within the process to solve.
3. The power to lead
Leadership is one of those skills that many of us take for granted. A lot of founders think it’s something that just happens naturally, or that it’s common sense. In reality, being a great leader has been the hardest to master and the most useful. Leadership is what will keep your team together through think and thin.
It’s a company’s culture that protects it from imploding, not just the skills of each team member. Founders protect themselves from the external, but fail to see that a lack of leadership will kill the company from within.
Simon Sinek has been one of the role models I’ve had on leadership. His book Leaders Eat Last, has allowed me to handle so many small situations that come up as a CEO. One recent example was when a few members of our company decided to get a giant house together in San Francisco.
The discussion came up of who who’d get the best room and who had have to sleep on the couch. Arguments started happening, and the conversation got heated.
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And then I remembered one of the lessons I had learned in leadership, that as the leader your job is protect everyone else on the team. You sacrifice your well being for the group, as if the other people in your company were your own sons or daughters.
After remembering this, I looked at all my roommates and I simply said, “I don’t care if I have the worst room in the house or if I sleep on the floor, living with you all and building our business is enough for me. ” Quickly after, people started caring a lot less about where they were going to sleep. The argument ended and we went back to building our dream.