Eric Partaker has advised over 100 CEOs over the last 3 years, from pre-revenue startups to 9-figure scale-ups worth billions of dollars. When asked to list 9 of the most common challenges and recommendations he came across, here's what he came up with:
How CEOs overcome their greatest challenges
01. Predictable sales growth
The inability to forecast top-line revenue reliably can be extremely frustrating, but that's common when leaders haven't introduced systems and processes. For founders and CEOs struggling with this, Eric recommends reading the Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Noberge.
02. Personal effectiveness
Eric believes that "what gets scheduled gets done". He encourages the CEOs he coaches to create an ideal week. Anything the CEO considers important should be scheduled in the calendar as an appointment.
- Meeting prep? Schedule it.
- Reading time? Schedule it.
- Thinking time? Schedule it.
03. Managing the board
Eric believes that for any CEOs to get the maximum out of their board he or she must manage the board members actively.
Go to Board meetings to provide status updates and they will feel like you’re doing just that.
Instead of simply reporting what's going on in the business, CEOs should send out the board pack at least 48 hours ahead of the meeting. Anything that's considered a "status update" should be assigned as pre-reading. That will leave the meeting itself free to focus on the top two or three issues that the CEO needs help or input on.
04. Hiring ahead of the curve
Eric believes this is a dangerous phrase to throw around – it's a common trap to hire someone that’s too far ahead of the curve. In Eric's words:
Be careful you don’t hire a four-star general if you still need them to jump into the trenches and fight battles.
05. Driving accountability
It's not unusual to hear CEOs complain about team members missing results, but in many cases it's the leadership that's to blame, not the individuals. Accountability comes from consistent, well-structured team meetings and 1-t0-1s.
"Meetings are the medium of management".
Andy Grove, High Output Management
06. Lack of clarity in proposition
Eric regularly points out to executives that their business proposition is unclear and confusing. A quick visit to their website and you're often none the wiser.
If someone can’t visit your website and figure out what you do, who it’s for, and what they should do next… all within 5 seconds or less… you have a problem.
07. Difficult conversations
It's no secret that difficult conversations become more difficult the longer you wait. Nevertheless, Eric often finds himself advising CEOs to address them quickly and with confidence. For anyone looking for a simple framework, Eric says you should look up "Non-Violent Communication".
Few people truly enjoy fundraising, but it becomes all the more painful if you don't have a good story to tell. Eric tells CEOs to think about the narrative they want to share, then write it out. It's not a 10-slide deck, it's a story that includes things like:
- How your customers find you
- How long they stay with you
- How much they tend to spend with you
- The results you create for them
As Eric points out, drafting your story for tomorrow also helps inform the data you need to start tracking today.
A surprising number of CEOs struggle to communicate their differentiated strategy in a single sentence. This can lead to all kinds of problems and certainly doesn’t help the previous fundraising point. Eric recommends reading Blue Ocean Strategy, which discusses ways of neutralising your competition and opening up uncontested markets.