KRA of a startup founder

What are the KRAs of a startup founder

What does a startup founder exactly do? Apart from taking the risk, coming up with an idea and getting things started, a founder has to do tons of things which are not visible at times from outside.

It does not matter whether a venture is big or small, funded or bootstrapped, running it requires that founder wears multiple hats. Surely things get easier when you have funds and resources at disposal, however, the job only gets tougher with additional responsibilities.

In almost every company, managers decide the KRAs for employees every year. It helps them work better and align it with their year-end appraisals. But who decides and track the KRAs of an entrepreneur, founders, and business owners.

Definitely, it’s the founder itself who has to decide her role and accordingly set targets and track performance either herself or get mentors, advisers or board members etc. to do it for her.

However, before even tracking anything, you need some targets and that’s where things get tough. As a first-time founder, many do not have clarity on what the expectations are in the entrepreneurial journey. Initially, people are happy visualizing their startup idea, success, and feeling of being one’s own boss. But as things move, you realize you have to do the hell lot of things to keep moving ahead.

So here are some of the KRAs of startup founders.

1. Chief of House Keeping — Yes you guessed it right. For all practical purposes, you will be the peon of your startup. You have to open your office early in the day and close it after all employees are gone. At times, you have to clean it (if you do not have the housekeeping staff some day), manage utilities (power, internet, water etc.), pay bills, fix things if required (laptops, wi-fi etc.), manage printers, handle office landlord. I have worked with many startups and almost every startup founder had to do this many times during the day. This is certainly not expected from a founder, right? Wrong. You should be prepared to do anything and everything that comes your way. If not you then who else?

I hope, you are not scared. We have just started.

2. Chief of Staff — You are the supreme commander of your forces. You have to build your army (or team) and hire best people to execute your vision. You will be required to create job descriptions, post on a number of job sites and of course pass the word in your network. You may also need to get co-founders on board (if required). You will have to screen candidates, schedule interviews and meet people. Not many will be convinced with your product, company or culture. You have to sell your vision to get best people on board. If you get lucky and someone accepts your offer, you will have to take care of onboarding and devices like laptops etc. (See KRA 1 — Chief of House Keeping)

Apart from hiring, you have to take care of team building, employee satisfaction, their KRA setting, evaluation, appraisals, salary etc.

This is getting tough now :)

3. Chief of Product — Yes now it’s getting interesting as you can do what you enjoy most. Building products. You have to convert your idea into product features, roadmaps, do customer surveys, brainstorming with your team, prioritize, experiment, define metrics to track, analyze and finally interface with your technology team so that it can be converted into a working product.

4. Chief of Technology — Well if you have a very small team and if you love coding than at times, you have to don this hat as well. Unless you have a tech co-founder or a CTO, you will be required to code. At least you are expected to understand technology so that you can delegate or outsource work.

5. Chief of Sales and Marketing — Like product management role, this is a very important role which you have to play nicely. If you can not market or sell your product than there is no point running a venture. You have to search for prospects, pitch them, pursue them and do whatever it takes to get things moving. You have to find ways to market your product as cheaply as possible.

6. Chief Financial Officer — Well you have to guard your money and manage it well. Keep expenditures low and spend only on those things which can bring ROI. You have to decide the salary structure, release salaries, work with accountants for government compliance’s (Tax etc.), do financial planning for next few quarters, work on the ESOPs etc.

7. Chief Culture Officer — Well I think this is a very important KRA which can not be delegated or outsourced at any cost. When your company is growing, it is you or your co-founders who make or break the culture. Whatever you do on a daily basis gets reflected in the culture. Whether it is an open, fun based environment where ideas are welcomed or is it like Boss is always right kind of culture where there is no scope for innovation, the choice is yours. So wear this hat properly.

There are many many other roles which I have not covered. They can be anything like fundraising, customer support, growth hacking, PR and media relations etc. However, the above 7 KRAs are most important. As you expand and grow, you can delegate some of them to senior leadership but still, you have to work with them closely and track.

So now you know what you will be doing once you take that leap of faith and start the journey of thousand miles.

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