Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to be a CEO

I've had the pleasure of being a CEO now, in one form or another, for the past 5 years. In that time I've run an industrial Corp, an anti-pirate Corp, a pirate Corp, and now a PVP and nullsec survival training Corp.

But I do know that I'm not an expert - there are others out there who are much better and more dedicated than I am at building highly successful Corps and alliances. All I've done is developed my own style, in line with my own interests, and achieved some success along the way.

But when someone asked me the other day if I had any advice for them on how to start their own Corp, I felt reasonably qualified to give them some tips and advice. As a result, I decided to put the results into a blog post, so that you readers might get some value from it too.

So let's get started...

1) As a CEO you're going to have to acknowledge to yourself that you can't do it alone, and you shouldn't even try. You need to get some dedicated people onboard with you that share your goals, so that you can work together on them. So you need to...

2) Develop a 'mission statement' for what you want to achieve in the game, and how you want to achieve it. This is going to define everything you do, and even how you do it. By making this public in some fashion you will attract people who want to be part of your vision or even support it, and it's the latter who may end up becoming your 'senior staff'. If your mission is simply to relax and have fun, then make sure you detail that, or you'll get people joining who might take it all too seriously.

3) Establish operational policies for all activity within the corp. The policies establish the rules for all members, so that they understand what they can and can't do, and what the penalties are for disobeying the rules. Make sure these policies are in line with your mission statement, and the image and reputation you want to create. Include policies for industrial activity and logistics, security and PVP operations, and even wartime operations when affected by wardecs. Common sense goes a long way.

4) Get dedicated department chiefs to manage each of the depts, eg. a PVP Chief, PVE Chief, Industrial Chief, etc. You won't have the time to manage the departments individually, nor are you likely to have the expertise, but you WILL have time to manage the Chiefs who'll each have their relevant expertise in those areas.

5) As soon as you can, form a group of 'senior officers' from members that are eager and willing to step up and give you advice about how things should be done. These people need to have experience to back up their advice and support. Make sure they are sensible and obviously promoting the best interests of the corp and your goals. Only trust those who want to support the growth of the corp, and don't lose sight of what your vision is. Anyone who tries to change your mind or lead you in a direction away from your vision, dump them immediately. You'll be better off without them.

6) Never give anyone Director status, and never give anyone access to the Corp wallet. However, if you really think you must, then make sure you protect your assets by doing the following:

- transfer most of the corp funds out of the master wallet and into your personal wallet where they can't touch it
- transfer needed Corp assets out of Corp hangars and into your personal hangars

The reason for all the above is because anyone can betray you at any point, and you want to minimize the temptations that might encourage them to betray you. If more money is needed, you can transfer it back into the Corp as needed. If assets are needed, you can hand them out one at a time as needed, and make sure you get them back when finished.

7) Transfer at least 51% of corp shares to your CEO. This will ensure that you maintain ownership of the corp and even if you do make people Directors and they try to vote you out of ownership, they can only succeed if they can get a majority vote against you, as voted by shareholders. If you own the majority, you can always ensure any votes you don't like will fail.

8) Always pay your bills. If you have offices, make sure you pay your monthly rental costs, or you'll lose it. If you have assets in Corp hangars, you don't want the hassle of having to go to that station and retrieve them from being Impounded.

9) Run your corp as a 'dictatorship', where the final decision is yours and yours alone. Running by committee will ensure that your decision-making process is tied up in committee discussions which never go where you want them to go. Let your senior staff and even Corp members provide advice and suggestions and feedback and input, but at the end of the day it's your decision as to how you want your corp to move forward. When people make suggestions that are in line with your vision, allow those suggestions to move forward as actions. But if the suggestions are in opposition to your vision, then smash those suggestions into the ground where they belong.

If people don't like it, they'll leave. Let them. You want people that support you and support your vision (make sure you publicise it to your members, as per rule #2 above).

10) Learn everything about the Corp Management tab, including corp wallet, setting up divisions, managing and monitoring members, accepting applications, and how titles and roles work. Understanding all of the Corp management options is essential.

11) Blog about your experiences. You'll be surprised at how many people you'll attract and recruit simply because you're writing about your corp, its' activities and your own activities. Be a public figure, as that helps with your notoriety. But...

12) If you want professional, fun, respectable members, make sure that you are being exactly what you want in your corp. If you're an idiot and smack talk others all the time, then that's the kind of recruit you'll attract. If you're mature and talk about the level of fun you have, then you'll get mature people looking for fun as well. Be the kind of person you want to attract. (Interestingly, this works in life too. :)

13) COMMUNICATE. It's very important that you establish and maintain effective communication between yourself, your senior staff and the corp members. Set up a forum to allow discussions between members - it's essential, regardless of what type of corp you run. Learn about how to administrate the forum, including various levels of permissions related to different sections of the forum. If you don't want to learn that, find someone who is skilled in forum administration who can do it for you.

Communication is what keeps a corp together, and is what motivates it to work together. Keep everyone informed about changes, new developments, or items of interest. If the leader is silent, the members lose morale and move on. If there's very little for you to actually communicate, make sure your senior staff and dept chiefs are communicating about their departments instead. Always keep communication going, so everyone knows what's going on with whom.

I hope all the above helps to get you started. It's a lot of work to run a corp, and it's a lot MORE work to run a successful corp. But working out what you want to achieve from running your own corp will be very important to determining how it grows and operates.

Don't forget to keep it in alignment with your own personal values. If you're not passionate yourself about the corp and the goals you have for it, then it simply becomes a huge chore that will bore the hell out of you and make you want to quit playing. Keep that in mind.

This isn't enough! I need more...

If anyone wants more personal help, I'm willing to offer my time and knowledge on Corp management in exchange for ISK (which will be considered as donations to OUCH's funds). Also, I'm available to create an alliance for you if you can't do it yourself.

Contact me if you would like to discuss anything further.


  1. Just thought of something extra - if any of you are CEO's and you have tips and advice of your own that you'd like to add to this, please share in a comment. Thank you!

  2. Lots of solid advice here, as an experienced CEO I wish I would have had this post when I first took over the position.

    For additional advice, I found that real life management books, such as "Seven habits of highly successful people" and also to a certain extent personal management stuff can help you become a better CEO.