Things I wish I knew about switching from coder to CEO – Vincent Fletcher, CartonCloud

Gold Coast Innovation Hub: Innovators’ Insights Blog Series

Before you reach for another book, listen to another podcast or watch the latest interview with a world famous entrepreneur from Silicon Valley for advice on how to start a global business, read this series!  The Innovators’ Insights Blog Series explores the things that successful Gold Coast innovators wish they had known when they started. In our first Innovators Insights post, read candid insights from Vincent Fletcher from Carton Cloud.


Things I wish I knew about switching from founder/coder to CEO:

Measuring my days with the wrong metric made me miserable:

As the CEO, you don’t get someone coming up to you one day telling you your role and responsibility has entirely changed. For me, this transition from coder to CEO seemingly came out of nowhere.. one day I was coding 80% of my time, and virtually over night it dropped to 20%, then over the next few weeks fell to ~0%.

While my responsibilities had suddenly changed – I wasn’t sent a memo from anyone advising me of my new title and promoting me to the corner office. In my own eyes I was a programmer who suddenly had all these annoying administrational tasks to deal with. People management, hiring, firing, writing board reports, pitching to investors, presenting to shareholders, presenting to staff, being interviewed for the news paper. I felt these were all annoying administrational tasks preventing me from doing my true purpose: coding.

This took me months to rectify. People would come up and talk to me in private, asking what was wrong, and whether I hated my role, to which I would reply: No, but I’m not getting enough time to code! On the back of this, some even suggested I consider being the CTO and instead hire a CEO into the company. “…What??”

What I’ve since learned is that it wasn’t that I disliked the new tasks, it was the way in which I was measuring my days success. I was still measuring my days based on code written, and tickets closed. I wasn’t measuring my days success based on these new tasks. Once I learned to get a sense of accomplishment (even a minor one!) from doing the new tasks, my perception of my days shifted and I found myself much happier at work.

‘Thanks’ isn’t coming, get used to it:

If you’re a developer, and you stick it out all night to solve an urgent production issue, your boss will most likely come up to you and personally thank you. She might even take you and the team our for lunch!

If you’re the CEO, and you’ve stuck it out every night for the last week hustling investors, clients, your team, whatever it has taken to get enough money in the door to pay the wages – no-one says: “Thank you for paying my wages”. There’s no special lunch. On the flip-side, pay wages a week late and wait to hear the barrage of feedback.

I believe being a CEO is very similar to being a telecommunication company. It’s an extremely thankless position. No-one calls Vodafone to thank them for allowing them to watch YouTube all afternoon – but if signal suddenly drops out, they’ll be straight to customer support to complain (well.. once they regain service).

I’ve learned that in the CEO position you have to be happy getting little/no recognition from people inside your company for the work you’ve put in. You have to be comfortable congratulating yourself.

I wasn’t “keeping an eye on things”, I was micro-managing:

It’s such a fine-line between keeping a close eye on things and being a micro-manager.

After being off the the tools on a daily basis for around 8 months, I was still actively monitoring our #dev slack channel, just in case someone needed me (after all, I built this thing). It wasn’t until I took a 2 week holiday in which the European timezone forced me to be unable to monitor things that I finally realised I was wasting my time keeping such a close eye on this particular part of the business, and my team had it under control.

In hindsight, I wish 6 months earlier i’d started muting slack channels, rather than monitoring them like a paranoid owl.
This would have then allowed me to leave them entirely (which I recently have), and has given me the headspace to concentrate on bigger things.


About CartonCloud:

CartonCloud is an easy-to-use (TMS) transport management system and (WMS) warehouse management system with a mission of making complicated logistics, simple.  Learn more at cartoncloud.com

August 20, 2018