Hard truths for upstart CEOs

Hard truths for upstart CEOs

Doesn’t matter what business you’re in or what sort you want to start, two things are true: you will receive a lot of “advice” and much of this will come from people who have never been where you are or dared what you have. Don’t listen to those people. Let me say that again. If they have not risked and they have not succeeded, thank them for their input and turn it loose. Sure, they might be that twice-right-in-a-day stopped clock, but there are other people out there you should be listening to … and some you shouldn’t hear at all.

With that said, I’m going to push both of us out on a limb and offer you some advice. Ironic, maybe, considering the previous paragraph, but I know it’s been helpful for me. How you apply it is up to you.


Don’t let yourself be distracted, no matter how new and exciting the next opportunity is. If there is one trait all entrepreneurs share, it’s an insatiable attraction to new and exciting ideas. We start something and get it rolling, then, without warning, there’s this itch to do something new. That’s part of who we are and part of what makes us successful, but biting on that too early can create chaos in your life and your business. It’s a lesson far too many CEOs learn the hard way. Don’t let that be you.

Tighten up your communication

You don’t have time to chat, and you don’t have time for Hollywood style speeches. You have work to do. In most cases, if you can’t say it in under a minute, you’re talking too much. In most cases, you will have less than 30 seconds to gain the attention of your prospects and potential investors.

Listen more than you talk

You’re at the point where you want to feel the power of control. That can be enticing, but you need to take a step back and realize where you really are, in life and business. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t learn when your mouth is moving.

Be around people that can make you better

Seek out people who have succeeded in what you are trying to do, and learn what has made them successful. Build learning opportunities into your schedule so that you never stop becoming better. Be intentional about this.

Don’t spend money you don’t have to spend

Signs of success are nice, but they’re just signs. Big, fancy and expensive may impress some people, but it won’t bring you success. Your priority, especially in the early years, should be to increase profits and reinvest to strengthen the moneymaking machine your business should be. This means living well below your means for longer than you will want to. Is there anything wrong with toys and trophies? Not at all, but if you jump on that too early, that might be all you’re left with when your cash flow dries us. Never forget, toys depreciate.

You really do have to earn that money

Too many startups wander around with expectations of major cash infusions from investors far too early in the game. Some win that lottery, but most don’t. They have to establish their worth before they can get the money they need to grow anymore.

Don’t let your ego make you stupid.

Elie Hirschfeld is NY real estate developer.