When CEOs need to fire themselves

Founding a business is no mean feat, and that's why Joe Kraus on TechCrunch makes the argument for CEOs to fire themselves.

One of the hardest things for first-time founder/CEOs to figure out is what role to play as the company starts to grow.

All CEOs, founding or not, have a centre of gravity. It can be sales, product, engineering, marketing, finance, etc. It’s the place they feel most comfortable, most grounded. It’s where they grew up in their career, or if they haven’t had much of one, it’s the place where they feel they have insight or instinct.

At the start of a company’s life, founder CEOs are often also doing the jobs of other “skill” positions (being the head of product, for example). But, inertia is a very powerful force. It’s very easy to just keep doing what you were doing. If you were a coder in the early part of your company’s life, it’s easy to just keep coding. If you were a product person in the beginning, it’s easy to stay deeply involved in product.

The error I see, far too often, is the founding CEOs do these skill positions way too long and don’t recognise the cost to the organisation.

For example, let’s say a founding CEO is a really good product person. As the company adds its first few engineers, the CEO keeps playing the product role (in addition to, usually, the BD role, the sales role, and the marketing role). As the business grows more, the CEO realises they need to add more bench strength by bringing in some senior specialists — let’s say a head of BD. Then the same happens for marketing. Then sales.

But the last thing to go is usually the CEO's “comfort zone” skill (what they grew up in their career doing and, in this example, product).

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