What does it feel like to be the CEO of a start-up?

I have a contrarian view, here are my answer to several issues orginially posted on quora, regarding being a start-up CEO:

1. Raise Funding

Use profit sharing as funding. You must be profitable on day one, but many business models allow for that: for instance being digital publisher, if you have a niche market that you control, and are well connected with your potential advertisers (or use AdSense!), and great at growth hacking. This was and still is my case.

2. Take care of the investors

You'll waste months of valuable time chasing investors with no guarantee of success, while competitors like me work from day one on producing value and revenue rather than funding. The only "investor" is me, so it's not really an issue. I was born in poverty, and made all my money out of re-investing profit sharing. I came to US in 1996 with 0 dollar, I was not even able to buy or rent a car to drive to work at that time, I had to ask an advance on salary from my employer - NISS. Just like football players, very few make billions of dollars, a few are quite wealthy, most are poor yet happy. Same with Start-up people; you are more likely to become relatively wealthy if you don't talk to investors and are just self-funded - but you will not become a billionnaire. If a well capitalized start-up starts competiting against you (after successfully getting big funding from a VC firm), use business hacking and sheer brain power (creativity, vision) to kill them - it can be done, really, if you are a real entrepreneur! 

3. Take responsibility for financial performance / statements

I live in a house much cheaper than I can afford, I drive the cheapest car in my neighborhood though I am the wealthiest guy, but I do indulge in great restaurants and vacations, on a regular basis (I can manage my business from any place with an Internet connection - that includes a nice beach). Finally I love playing with finances - even tax optimization, actually my title is more like CFO.

4. Do marketing and product evangelism


5. Make sales calls

Hire a great sales guy with proven performance, offer ownership and commissions, make him a co-founder (it will be easier for him to sell with a co-founder title, than say 'sales executive' job title) and get him to work and own other projects, so that he becomes a true partner. Of course you need to have a product that can be sold right away, otherwise no one will want to partner with you.

6. Do product development

Agreed. I like it, if you don't, you are not an entrepreneur.

7. Find human talent

Our sales guy greatly helped with this. And I found engineers in Romania thanks to our nanny.

8. It ain't glamorous until you are At Scale and Hot, at the very minimum. At $10m+ in revenues, maybe. Maybe not even until pre-IPO.

I find it glamourous, though I don't care about glamour. I'm in business to make money, not to generate glamour. I enjoy living in a beauftiful house in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, I take vacations at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara or in the Caribbean, though most recently (and despite increased revenue), I'm just happy with the local deserts, beaches and mountains if there is great food, and in particular, lot's of relatively inexpensive short vacations. That's more important (to me, at least) than glamour. 

9. The Zero Cash Date when you run out of money will be burned in your brain.

I've been waiting 15 years for that day to happen, it never did with the start-ups that I created myself, and thanks to carefully planned diversification and vision, it is very unlikely to ever happen. In fact, I've never felt so secure since I left cubicle world for good, in 2011.

10. You are never recruiting enough because you always need at least one more amazing person on the team and it just isn't getting done and this is the most important thing so somehow you have to find a way even if you aren't.

I don't recruit (actually, barely), I automate and outsouce (to vendors), instead.

11. You can't really share

I share everything openly with the entire world - I call it open intellectual property (IP) or open patents; thanks to sharing on a large scale, I get feedback from people to improve my IP, and since I dominate my niche market, no one can steal my public IP to successfully compete against me, or to sue me over IP issues.

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