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Potentially Fatal Mistakes Start-Ups Make When Raising Capital, Part Three

This week, we’re going to cover a fatal mistake that regularly catches founders and CEOs by surprise and takes ongoing commitment to keep it in check.

What We Learn Growing Up

When we’re young, the majority of our accomplishments and accolades come from what we do, such as hitting a home run in little league or getting an A+ in AP calculus—i.e. “Good hit, Annie!” and “Great work, Lila!”

Doing things helps us feel good. When we accomplish something tangible, we usually give ourselves credit and receive praise from others for what we did.

The Fatal Error in Doing

As adults, doing becomes natural and provides us with a sense of accomplishment, good feelings about ourselves, and money as compensation for the work.

What’s important to realize is that you are the person who is doing the things that yield the emotional and financial rewards. Whether you’re a doctor resetting a broken leg, a chef creating new food concoctions that will wow your patrons, or an engineer designing a new widget, you are doing in all three jobs—getting praise and money for a job well done.

So, where’s the fatal error in doing as CEO of your company? It’s the doing.

Doing is one of the most insidious hidden fatal errors that CEOs make regularly. Why? Because as CEO, you can’t DO everything for the company to thrive, especially in a start-up or high-growth environment—it just isn’t possible.

Being a Masterful CEO

In order to be a highly successful CEO, you need to stop doing: You must stop playing instruments in your orchestra and start conducting it.

For your company to thrive, each of the orchestra members should be better than you are at playing their instrument. While you may be able to play every instrument, you must make conducting your priority. Otherwise, while you’re playing, different groups in the orchestra will take control of the music, leaving you with a cacophony.

Key point. To be CEO in a highly successful company, you must conduct your orchestra and stop playing one or more of the instruments in it. Instead, delegate and manage.

Conducting allows you to leverage yourself, increasing your work output by 5 to 10+ times what you can do on your own. It also forces you to work on the important things: Setting company direction clearly and regularly, and ensuring that your team is working on the right things.

Secret to Conducting

You won’t get many external kudos when you’re not the one doing, so how do you handle this? You have to get good at self-acknowledgment, focusing on your wins, including managing your staff through difficult issues, handling the company business with aplomb, and executing your strategy. Of course, your big reward is a highly successful exit.


Doing tasks may be required during your time as CEO. However, your biggest single irreplaceable element is your time—leveraging it will either make or break your company. Learn to give up doing in favor of conducting. That means hiring the best people for each position, managing them well so that they are working on and getting the right things done, and ensuring that they are doing the same with their teams.


Important Check-In

Stop working right now for ten minutes and write down your honest answers to these questions:

  1. Is every person who reports to you better at doing their job than you are?

  2. Are you doing any part of a job that someone else should be doing? What specifically?

  3. Are you regularly confirming that each person knows what’s important and allowing each to do their job?

  4. Are you laser-focused on business strategy, ensuring you have enough capital for growth, getting the right people on board in the right roles, and managing your team to excellence?

Based on what you just wrote down, where do you need help? Get in touch with us to talk about your situation and what help you need. We are always willing to spend an hour talking with new, solid founders.

Until next week!

All the best,


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