When you boil it down, startup CEOs typically fall into one of two categories: technical and nontechnical.
While it might seem like technical founders enjoy “rock star” status in the startup world a little more often, nontechnical founders contribute in important ways too. Here are a few tips for succeeding in this very important role:
1. Be Specific.
Raw Engineering CEO Neha Sampat told Fast Company that her lack of tech knowledge actually helped her become a more successful leader. Sampat explained that by working alongside colleagues with different perspectives, everyone was forced to be really clear about their basic expectations and needs, which helped the team avoid misunderstandings in the long run and work more efficiently day-to-day.
2. Show, Don’t Tell.
Think of yourself as a visitor in a foreign land – you need to learn how to get around and then show others the way too. That means at least becoming familiar with the technical stack that your product will be built on. This can give you a stronger understanding of the fundamentals of your product. Show rather than tell your idea by creating wireframes and mock-ups of your product. Try iMockups or Balsamiq for easy mock-up tools.
3. Be a Connector.
One of the biggest roles a nontechnical founder can play is to grow the business through selling and connecting with people. Even if you have a solid product, networking remains a crucial aspect in successful recruiting, selling and finding new investors.
4. Build Credibility.
Working hard to sign on new clients, laying out a smart product management pathway and finding innovative solutions to long-standing problems are all ways you can earn the respect and trust from those around you.
5. Talk to Your Team.
Don’t assume or pretend that you understand everything about the business just because you’re a founder. Talk to your team members about what’s working and what’s not. After all, you hired these experts for a reason, so now it’s time to trust them. Focus on your strengths and be an enabler by giving guidance and providing resources.
Photo Credit: le temple du chemisier via Flickr