When Brian Mac Mahon, founder of Expert Dojo was asked “what is the best advice for a young, first-time start-up CEO?” - He interestingly said that “The advice for a young start-up CEO is the same as for older. As long as it’s your first time you need to recognize a few points.”

But different start-up CEOs have their own mantras that they followed or that lead them to the ladder of success.

What is a start-up?

A start-up is a venture that is initiated by its founders around an idea or a problem with a potential for significant business opportunity and impact.

From single founders with no team to some of the biggest tech companies in the world, the definition of “start-up” is extremely broad — and very unclear.

The creative energy and strong desire to bring your big idea or innovative concept to the marketplace excites and motivates a person. It can also make it difficult to overcome some of the challenges you will face as a young, first-time start-up CEO.

Best advice for a young, first-time start-up CEO.

So here are some of the best pieces of advice for a young, first-time start-up CEO:

  • Surround yourself with right people

There are a lot of people in this game who are way smarter than you at getting their objectives done. So surround yourself with mentors, friends, advisors who can give directions to your thoughts.

  • Recognize your weakness, 

Recognize that you will probably not be a great CEO for the entirety of your company. When you recognize that, you can truly grow your company at levels that would not previously have been possible. So recognize your weaknesses, surround yourself with people who supplement those weaknesses with strengths, themselves, and make sure you know at what stage you actually should be moving on and moving aside so other people can actually take the reins to go further. You might probably fail sometimes but embrace your failures, don’t give up. It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster ride.

  • Building the Team

Building a team plays a vital role. Motivate your teammates, have great communications, give them the opportunity to suggest some great ideas.

Have teamwork, resolve conflicts.

  • Focus on revenue generation

Focus on revenue generation on day one. Every single successful company is successful because of its users, and they are people who either pay to use their product or people who love their product. So focus on the user on the first day.

  • Reach out to Investors for advice, not for money

When you need investors don't ask for money for your salary. Ask for features and a growing distribution network. If you ask for money, you get advice, but if you ask for advice and say you don’t need any money, then you get great advice and you also get a higher chance of getting everything that you possibly want.

  • Continue to grow outside your company

Another piece of advice for early-stage CEOs is to continue to grow outside your company. Surround yourself with people who help you grow. Read books, go to seminars and workshops, or have a great coach to guide you through. Make sure that you are continuously learning something each day. You have to make sure you’re training for the next level.

  • Live out of the box

Most importantly, don’t just think out of the box rather live out of the box.

  • Communication

Communicating with clients, communicating with employees, communicating with partners. It’s better to have bad news rather than no news. Communication is the key to all the problems. If you want to improve client relationships communicate with them. Make them know your availability.

  • Enjoy the journey

More than anything, enjoy this journey. People get stressed due to the immense pressure that you are under as an early-stage founder, that you just forget the beautiful, incredible, creative new world that you’re putting together. So embrace that every single day. Every morning, when you wake up, say to yourself, “I am doing something that 99% of the people don’t have what it takes to actually step out and be brave enough to do it themselves. You did. 


FAQ (frequently asked questions)

  • What a start-up CEO really does?
  • A start-up CEO is basically one who is the founder of the start-up who had ideas in his mind and he brought them to reality. On paper, a start-up CEO's job is to recruit top-tier talent, communicate a clear vision to the company's stakeholders, and make sure the company doesn't run out of money.

  • Who should be the CEO of a start-up?
  • The CEO needs to be the flame bearer. If you are a tech/product-driven company the CEO should ideally be the product visionary.
  • What is it like being a CEO?
  • It may seem like getting to call yourself "chief executive officer" comes with all perks and no problems, but the truth is, being a CEO is just like any other job — the only difference is, you're responsible for an entire company


  • What is the difference between start-up and entrepreneurship?
  • While entrepreneurship refers to all new businesses, including self-employment and businesses that never intend to become registered, start-ups refer to new businesses that intend to grow large beyond the solo founder.
  • Is CEO the owner?
  • The CEO can be the owner of the company but not all the time. One can be a CEO and owner.