The Secret to Managing your Time as a Startup Founder
And How to Stay at the Top of Your Game
Startup founders and CEOs have a limited time to get their company to the next stage. If you don’t know how to manage your time, your role will quickly become irrelevant.
Your company will stagnate and you will be replaced by someone who can execute better (or a competitor).
So how can you become an A-player, on the top of your game, all the time? Here are some notes from my own experience:
Know your strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a CEO.
What things do you like doing best?
What things do you like doing worst?
Which tasks will be delegated to someone else in your company?
Who will take these roles and where will these tasks have an impact on your product or service?
How will you delegate or train others to take over these roles without compromising on product quality or services delivered to customers?
Implement the delegation process into the overall plan
Support them by keeping them accountable for their tasks. Set up a system to track progress and set up checkpoints with concrete milestones for them so they are aware when they should finish their tasks. They need to know what is expected of them before they start working on something. This is especially important for new hires.
The purpose of delegating is to free up your time in order to give you more time to focus on tasks that you are good at and enjoy the most. But you are responsible for making sure that delegated tasks are done or taken over by someone else.
If you work on other things at the same time, then you will lose control over the delegation process and your people will feel invisible or unappreciated. This can have a negative impact on motivation and ultimately on the quality of your products or services delivered to customers.
Focus doesn’t always mean working harder
It is sometimes important to work smarter, not harder, depending on the situation. Managing multiple projects requires different skills than managing daily operations of a company.
Plan ahead and set deadlines accordingly. When setting deadlines, allow enough time for something to go wrong so you have a buffer time in case something unexpected happens during execution of your plans (e.g., health issues, family emergencies etc.).
Don’t sacrifice quality if you’re under time pressure and do not be afraid to ask for help when needed!
Develop mastery in one area, know everything about what happens there (your expertise)
While it is important to focus on your core area of expertise, you need to know what is happening in other areas of your company. This can be difficult, but it is possible to master several areas at the same time.
For example, if you’re a tech-savvy person and have a deep understanding of the technical side of your business, then you need to develop your business acumen so you can also understand what happens in the sales and marketing side of your company.
This will help you understand why things are happening a certain way in a certain area and how it impacts other areas. It will also help you to understand when something needs attention from someone else outside that area (or if someone needs more training.)
Understand what each person does and their role in achieving the vision or strategy (your people)
As a CEO or founder, you need to know who’s on board and what they do for the company. Their roles & responsibilities should be defined so that everyone knows who does what and how their role impacts other areas of your business.
This is especially important when it comes to people who work remotely or with different time zones (e.g., freelancers). You need to make sure that they are available when needed and that they deliver on time (e.g., weekly sprint reports).
Develop systems for tracking progress so you can see if something is going wrong with the delegated work before it becomes a problem.
If there are issues with people not meeting deadlines or providing quality work, then set up meetings with them immediately so they can explain why things have happened this way and how they are going to fix it.
Developing mastery takes time, but it is worth it. It will help you to develop a holistic view of your company and see all the interconnections between different areas.
Eventually, you will be able to make better decisions for the company without being distracted by details that don’t impact the overall strategy of your company or its vision.
Make time for planning
You will need to plan ahead in order to stay on top of things and make sure that your team is on track with their tasks. Ask yourself: which areas are most important for you and your business right now? Which tasks should be done in the next 3 months? Which tasks should be done in the next 3 weeks? Which tasks should be done today? Plan ahead so you can reach your goals!
Make time for learning and development (your personal development)
As CEO or founder, you are responsible for making sure that everyone is growing as a professional and career-wise. Make sure that each person has enough room to grow their skillsets, set up meaningful projects where they can try out new things and master new skills.
It is also important to support them when they need feedback or coaching on particular areas of their performance that needs improvement (e.g., their communication, leadership skills etc.) so they can improve as professionals.
This also means that you have to be willing to take risks and invest in people who might not yet have all the skills needed for their role but could potentially become great assets for your company if given more time and training (e.g., leadership training).
Being on top of things is not easy, but it is possible if you work hard and plan ahead. If you’re working on too many things at the same time, then rely on your team members to help you out. If you can’t afford to hire staff or freelancers to help out, then find someone who can help you out for free (e.g., friends, family members etc.) until you have enough resources to hire a full time person (or people) to take over the task and allow you to focus on other things that are important for your business.
I hope this helps and I wish all of you the best!
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.