If you take nothing else away from this A+ post,
take away this:
The CEO only needs to speak for the first 30 minutes. That's it. Max.
Then it's time for the rest of your team, folks https://t.co/6gWZpLy43i
— Jason ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin ⚫️ (@jasonlk) March 6, 2021
David Sacks recently put together a great primer on how to have a SaaS Board meeting. I agree with it 100%. The very first point though resonated most with me: the CEO should only speak for the first 30 minutes. After that let each VP speak. Why is this so important? It helps you run your company better.
So I thought I’d make a quick list of other tweaks you can do, right now, to run your company better if you aren’t doing them yet:
#1. Doing Investor Meetings Every 6 Weeks, Even if You Don’t Have To. Many early stage founders don’t want to board meetings. Well, that may be OK, especially if you don’t have a board. But you are losing a huge benefit if you don’t do formal investor meetings regularly. That benefit is an external forcing function for your team. By forcing each functional head to present vs goals at each investor meeting … they’ll sweat it. And that will help you, so someone else besides you can hold them accountable. It works.
#2. VPs Should All Present at Your Board / Investor Meetings. Related to the prior two points. To make investor or board meetings help you as CEO, each VP needs to present for at least 15 minutes. And not just a rambling update, but a true first slide that is results vs. plan. So they sweat it when they miss it. And get kudos when they crush it.
#3. Make Your Company More Diverse Faster, Like Now. Being more diverse has always been a leg-up. The thing is though, this is accelerating. Let me be specific: many of the top women SaaS leaders I’ve worked for will never work in a non-balanced environment again. They don’t have to anymore. There are enough more balanced teams, and women-run SaaS companies, that they can be choosier. Not enough, but more. So many of the top SaaS candidates won’t consider you at all if you aren’t balanced. Start fixing that now.
#4. Do Weekly 1-on-1s with All Your Direct Reports. Most founders know they should do this, but they don’t. You have to. It’s their time to share unstructured concerns with you. And to get feedback on what’s working. You have to make the time here. More here:
#5. Have weekly staff meetings, where each leader / VP has to quickly present. Most of us have gotten better at this since we all went distributed, but I still see a lot of startups skipping the weekly staff meeting. They are important. The #1 reason they matter is that your team doesn’t talk as often as you think they do. More on that here.
#6. Have a core, #1 goal / KPI for each department. This includes marketing, engineering, customer success, everything. Just like sales has a #1 core goal (new revenue), everyone else needs to, as well. An opportunity commit for marketing. A story point commit for eng. An NPS and NRR goal for success. Every department. Not just sales.
#7. Send out monthly investor updates immediately. Like the day the month closes or just after. It’s OK if they aren’t perfect or could be subject to small changes. Few things instill more confidence in your investors than getting an update on the 1st of each and every month.
#8. Don’t hide bad news. Don’t hide bad news. Don’t hide bad news. First, don’t hide it from your employees. Take your time to process bad news, and give it context. But you are a start-up. Your team can take it. The same with your investors. They know there are tough times. What spooks them is not knowing about issues. Whatever you do, don’t stop sending those monthly investor updates. Or start hiding bad numbers. It doesn’t help. It just makes things worse.
#9. Don’t keep a VP on that hasn’t improved things. Keeping a VP that is doing OK but not great is a tougher call — more on that here. But far too many of us keep a VP in place that hasn’t made things better. That hasn’t improved sales. That hasn’t brought in more leads. That hasn’t shipped more great features. It can be so tempting to keep them on to fill a slot, and focus elsewhere. The problem is everyone knows. They know the VP isn’t getting it done. And the whole company is let down. Move on from a VP that hasn’t improved things quickly. The team almost always in the end performs better almost immediately thereafter.