How CEOs Should Spend Their Time

How CEOs Should Spend Their Time

When you’re the CEO of a rapidly growing company, one that’s growing revenues at 25 percent or more per year, your single biggest challenge is time management. Where do you invest your precious time in order to generate the most possible value for your business? What do you choose to delegate–or ignore entirely?

There are three critical areas of focus for a high-growth CEO: people, strategy, and cash. If the task before you is not directly related to one of these items, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t be spending any time on it.

People (50 percent of your time)

Ideas without execution aren’t worth much. As you navigate the steep trajectory of your growing enterprise, the key to your success–or the cause of your failure–will be your ability to find, hire, and retain the best team possible. I’ve learned the hard way that people are your only real source of sustainable competitive advantage.

Your product will be copied, your service will be copied, but nobody can copy your team. Leveraged properly, they are an unstoppable force for growth and success.

As CEO, you should be spending around 50 percent of your time focused on the people side of your business. You’re out in the market, looking for that next great hire. You’re spending time with your leadership team, coaching them to success.

You’re hyper-vigilant about identifying bad hires and making quick decisions when it’s obvious that you’ve made a hiring mistake. You’re present and available to your company, leading from the front.

You’re responding to feedback on employer review sites, protecting and enhancing your employment brand. You’re monitoring and analyzing critical people metrics.

Strategy (35 percent of your time)

You probably don’t have it all figured out yet. You’re growing the business, but you’re not sure if your go-to-market approach is the right one.

Perhaps your product has found traction, but you have to make critical and difficult choices about what not to build. Maybe your service offering is compelling, but the way that you staff projects presentsmajor risk to the quality of your customer experience. Or, you’ve achieved early success targeting a specific industry vertical but are seeing signs of a looming sales plateau.

In short, you’re still searching for your best business model. CEOs of high-growth companies spend roughly a third of their time thinking about business strategy, making adjustments, taking calculated risks, and communicating these decisions throughout the organization.

You’re providing adequate time for you and your key managers to step back and work on the business. You’re staying close to the details so you know when it’s time to double-down on an idea or kill it outright.

You’re speaking with key industry players and your largest prospects to stay on top of your market. You’re meeting with and listening to your top customers to ensure that the strategy you’ve employed is delivering real value for them.

Cash (15 percent of your time)

A business model in its most basic definition is the process by which a company converts a customer’s pain into cash in the bank. Your customer has a need, they buy your product or service, you deliver it, and you get paid.

It’s simple to explain, but it’s anything but easy to do. And if you’re a venture-backed company, you’re also dealing with the ups and downs of fundraising cycles every eighteen to twenty-four months.

CEOs of high-growth companies forever deal with cash-related challenges; roughly fifteen percent of your time should be spent here. You’re watching customer acquisition costs and sales efficiency metrics. You’re monitoring customer churn.

You’re analyzing your pricing model, your payment terms. You’re watching collections like a hawk. You’re managing your relationship with your bank, your partners, and your investors.

These three critical areas of your business–people, strategy, and cash–are the secrets to your success as the CEO of a high-growth company. And like you, I’m still learning–so let’s tackle this together.


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