I'm a first time founder. I've been fortunate enough to build a company supported by an ambitious, talented team. Together, our team has built a great product, proven its value with customers, and raised $5.4M in Series A financing off the back of our early success. For the first time in my life, I'm responsible for millions of dollars of other people's capital, and as such, I now report to a board. I'm a founder, and I can be fired. I'm learning a lot as I go.
I was recently talking with a friend (who I'll call Barry for the rest of this post) who's raised over $100M in VC financing. We've talked quite a bit about startup boards, and specifically, the board's expectations of CEO performance (not just my board, but all boards). It's pretty easy to overthink these issues. Barry provided a simple framework to think about my role as CEO: the board has hired me as Chief Worry Officer.
As Chief Worry Officer, my job is to worry about the business. I find that it helps to pretend the board hired me as an outside consultant to come in and "worry" about things. I have to demonstrate a realistic understanding of where we are as a business, highlight strengths and weaknesses, identify the problems we're facing, and outline how we're trying to solve them. The worst thing a CEO can do is understate and underestimate problems. As Chief Worry Officer, I must find, vocalize, and solve these problems.
I would love to provide an anecdote to substantiate the above, but we haven't been holding board meetings long enough for me to discuss board issues publicly. Although the framework is new, I love it. It forces me to worry about just a few issues, and to delegate everything else as part of the leveling up process. Today, I have 4 key issues that I'm worried about. I've written those 4 key items down in my task manager that stays open on the right hand side of my computer at all times. As chief worry officer, I've structured my thinking, meetings, and processes around solving the key issues the board has hired me to worry about.
I recommend this framework to all new VC-backed founders. Founders, worry. It's good for you :).