“You have the patience of Job,” Tucker, a potential investor in my company, said to me. Tucker and I were strategizing on how to close our funding, and I was walking him through my strategy.
We had multiple problems to solve in order to close the funding. To start with, one of our existing investors, the infamous “Raul,” had blocked every term sheet we’d received.
The problem Tucker and I were trying to sold was being caused by “Robbie.” Robbie was our new lead investor, and he and his partners were in the process of potentially backing away.
But the problems didn’t end with Robbie. We also had to replace another member of the syndicate, Jim, our investor from Boston. Jim, who had originally tried to lead the round, pulled his term sheet because of Raul’s shenanigans.
Yes, you’re going to need to be patient as a startup CEO.
All through your life as a startup CEO, you’re going to need to be patient. Everything takes longer than you expect it to.
Here’s some of the things that will test your patience:
A. Building your founding team requires patience.
B. Developing your MVP requires patience.
C. Getting to $1 million ARR requires patience.
D. Keeping your cool when your team screws up requires patience.
Many of the mistakes you will make are a result of your impatience.
Back to Tucker’s Job comment. In response, I said, “What choice do I have? These are the cards we’ve been dealt, so patience is what is required.”
When I look back on my mistakes as CEO, almost every one of them was the result of my impatience.
For example, when my co-founder and VP Sales, “Ken,” quit with no notice, I was in such a rush to replace him that I hired the wrong person. Wish I hadn’t done that.
Or, when I lost my cool, and my patience, in a meeting with one of our engineers, prompting him to quit on the spot. Wish I hadn’t done that.
Or, when I didn’t wait long enough to see whether an ad campaign was panning out, only to stop the campaign. It was only when Mary, our marketing coordinator, pointed out my mistake, that I restarted the campaign. The mistake cost us likely $1 million in revenue. I wish I hadn’t done that.
But patience doesn’t mean that you’re not moving fast.
Your motto should be, “Go forward, fast.”
Where is written that patience and having a sense of urgency are mutually exclusive?
So, yes, you should be moving as fast as possible. However, you can’t let expediency mean you lose your discipline.
And discipline takes guts:
It takes guts to not hire that B player executive when you can’t find the A player you truly need.
It takes guts to keep your patience when someone screws up.
It takes guts to stick with that advertising campaign that hasn’t yet paid dividends.
You’ll need discipline, patience, and a sense of urgency to be a successful startup CEO. If this sounds tough, you’re right. But that’s what you’ll need.