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Startup CEO Best Practices

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In a startup or small business it is common that the founder or leader of the business does not have all the experience and expertise needed in every area of the company – sales and marketing, R&D, management, operations, finance, HR, insurance, accounting and taxes, government affairs, safety, quality control and so on.

Small or new business cannot afford to hire experts in all these fields, nor can they attract the most experienced managers.


[edit] Best Practices

The leader of the organization can devise methods of getting advice, expertise, knowledge and best practices in those areas that are identified as areas of need.

  1. Create a “real” board of directors. Many times in a business startup the board of directors is seen as merely a legal requirement – meeting once per year for the minimal legal requirements. A “real” board of directors can contribute to the success of a business if properly utilized for its intended functions. A board of directors can be fashioned for the purpose of assisting the startup with management backup to the founding CEO. Examples of areas a board can help the leader is using the board for complex and important business decisions, business plan review and input, reviewing financials and crisis management.
  2. Build a network of “advisors” that know your business and industry. Examples are bankers, vendors; accountants; brokers and corporate lawyers. Use them as a resource especially to advise on important challenges and decisions facing the business. These “advisors” have good reasons to want your business to succeed but are not burdened by an inside view and have the advantage of viewing other businesses.
  3. Create a formal business advisory board with a specific mission to assist the company that is relevant to your core business.
  4. Utilize incubators and other startup resources: Example: Impact HUB(54 local chapters globally and growing) and entrepreneur resources for startups such as Business Owner's Toolkit
  5. Use mentor resources such as SCORE and MicroMentor
  6. Join a trade association for your industry or business sector. Use the resources and tools they provide for their members. Use networking opportunities to gain knowledege, information and best practices.
  7. Use vendors for their expertise and resources. Examples:
  • Your insurance company or insurance broker may have an expert on workplace safety you can utilize to improve your safety practices.
  • Your health insurer will have workplace wellness resources and experts.
  • Many businesses use an outside accountant for tax return, payroll or other purposes. Use this accountant as a business resource to improve your business.
  1. Educate your banker/financier about your business. Your banker needs you to succeed so you meet the terms of your financing. Your banker has the vantage point of seeing many businesses operate and has learned what the most successful businesses do.
  2. Join a CEO group like Vistage (in nearly two thousand cities globally) so that you grow your skills as your company grows in a coached peer group setting. Learn from other CEO’s that haved done what you are doing. Share at a CEO level your challenges. (CEO groups do not have business competitors in the same group)
  3. Network with other CEOs in other businesses (non competitors) – local chamber group, Rotary or city clubs are good venues for networking with other businesses

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[edit] Author

The author of this article is Terry Gardiner.

Terry Gardiner is the founder and President of Silver Lining Seafoods and NorQuest Seafoods - a medium size Alaska seafood processing companies; and currently Board member of the Anvil Corporation, an employee owned company specializing in oil and gas engineering.

His co-operative experiences include member director of the Commercial Fishermen Co-operative association; creation of legislation for the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank; and advisor to the US Dept of Health and Social Services for the state Health CO-OPs.

Terry served ten years as a member of the Alaska House of Representatives -several legislative committee chairmanships, Speaker of the House, Chairman of the Alaska Criminal Code Commission and board member on various state and federal boards and commissions.

His non-profit experiences include National Policy Director for the Small Business Majority in Washington DC; working with the Herndon Alliance and ForTerra.

Terry authored the leadership book, "Six-Word Lessons to Build Effective Leaders: 100 Lessons to Equip Your People to Create Winning Organizations".

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