I’m CEO, but only for 1 hour per week.
This all started a few weeks ago, when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I’ll spare you the humblebragging claims to busy-ness, but that day in particular had significant demands on my time, each with serious repercussions if not filled.
So, I stepped back for a few minutes and blocked out my time, for the week, and it provided a sense of relief.
It freed me up to NOT do 99% of my workload at that moment.
As a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats. All small business owners do, and the process of growing your company means progressively giving those hats away. If you do your job correctly, you’ll be left at the end of the day with no hats, but still having a profitable company.
This is also the easiest type of company to sell – one that doesn’t really depend on it’s owner / founder. Until one gets to this point, I maintain one hasn’t truly built a company, but has simply built a “practice” or a job.
Anyway, by blocking out my week into chunks, including top-level sales, marketing, customer service, HR, and even specifically scheduling personal time to work out and get some sunshine, Dad time with my son, “float time” for catch-up and interruptions, it provided me clarity, because I then had license on what I should _not_ be doing at any moment.
As Paul Graham pointed out what many knew instinctively but hadn’t fully carved out, “maker time” requires deeper thinking, and without license to block out the world, I wouldn’t get anything meaningful done.
To implement this yourself, try a David Allen style Brain Dump, categorize it into the hats required of you, figure out about how much time per week you need on average, include some “slip time” each day (like office hours for college profs), and block it out.
- List of hats common in small business / tech startups is below
- Include time to be a human, and some fun time regardless of how motivated you are. For you tech startup Type A people: Engineer for your own limits. I have about 70 hours a week blocked, but some of that is for being a father, husband, exercise, sunshine, personal admin (i.e. home improvements, taxes, etc.) – so actual worked hours is really only about 45-50… crazy work weeks aren’t sustainable long term without cost – my record is 104/hrs week (7x 14 hr days actual work), but it was frankly sort of stupid: I ended up not working at my highest and best use, so working hard was actually inferior to working smart even on a pure results basis, not just life-enjoyment basis, not to mention “wife? what wife?” basis. Tim Ferriss’ awesome 4 hour workweek is a reminder of doing just what matters and delegating the rest.
- Polyphasic sleep is awesome if you can swing it socially. I average “everyman” or siesta during the week, then monophasic or segmented or siesta on weekends, depending mostly on parties and my social planner’s schedule (wife Lidia Ryan)
Roles – just a sketch here to get you started.. your week consists of…
- HR // team-building, retention, management
- being CEO // the big picture decisions, implementation in overview, raising funds if not bootstrapping, monthly reports, etc.
- Operations // aka “the product” for tech startups. This is a big one for me, as we’re mostly into product-market fit still. As we hone this, things like growth hacking get more important – til then, it’s water in a leaky sieve.
- Marketing // I break this out into outbound, inbound, traffic, and The Offer i.e. CRO
- Sales // getting the $, blend of this varies by your business…
- Accounting // even if you delegate, you need to know these numbers as CEO.
- Customer Support. // I talk to real-world clients every day and think it’s essential to startups, but that’s opinion.
- Food: I cook a lot, and find it meditative. I solve big code problems while cooking, and it’s fun to work on something physical.
- Exercise. Skip this, and you’ll regret it sooner or later.
- “office hours” – free time to deal with slipping deadlines, interruptions, calls that weren’t planned, etc.
- Personal admin – laundry, etc.
- “Sharpening the saw” – even if just a few minutes per week (tip: overlap with exercise via Audible.com audiobooks), this is worth it.