Maynard Webb revisits his advice to an anxious pre-IPO CEO

I’ve loved scripting this weekly column for 3 years, and I really like once I hear again from founders with an replace. One of the-read questions this yr got here from a founder who was anxious in regards to the firm’s upcoming IPO.

Right here’s the unique query and response, revealed on June 16, 2021:

 I’m coping with some nervousness as we strategy our IPO. What ought to I do?


—Breakout founder

Pricey Founder,

Congrats on being on the trail to going public! That’s an enormous accomplishment and really thrilling. In fact, it’s also very irritating.

I applaud you for sharing this query. It’s very self-aware of you to be keen to ask for assist, and I’m sure that having some extra assist will serve you properly. I like to recommend you’re employed with an expert therapist or govt coach.

Proper now, there’s a worry of the unknown. You’ll find that every thing shall be okay, it’s simply new and unsure. Your state of affairs will turn into normalized as soon as you might be residing it. Like we’ve seen with the pandemic—although what you’re dealing with is optimistic—there shall be a “new regular.” You’ll find that there shall be good issues and a few issues which might be much less enjoyable, however you’ll nonetheless be in charge of your organization and you’ll dramatically profit from having a complete new degree of money to obtain your imaginative and prescient.

I point out “management” above and that’s an enormous concern for founders. As you most likely know, there are some issues you are able to do to assist keep the management you could have, corresponding to going out with twin lessons of inventory. Work along with your advisers to guarantee you might be doing every thing in order that the individuals who constructed this firm get to profit essentially the most from it.

It’s so uncommon to go public: Out of all the businesses which might be launched, there are just a few hundred IPOs in any given yr—and customarily that’s 8 to 10 years after they had been began. You’re one in every of a really choose few and may really feel nice about this accomplishment in addition to what you might be doing to enhance as a frontrunner and as a human.


It’s essential to get some assist from somebody who understands what you’re going by and who can counsel you thru this time and put together you to navigate all that’s forward. As everyone knows, there’s extra coming! Even if you win the Tremendous Bowl, you could have to prepare for the following season. As you get assist and garner new experiences, you’ll construct new competencies to face the following challenges that come your method. It’s tremendous regular to be nervous going into the unknown, nevertheless it’s the way you continue learning and rising.

I loved responding to this query and adopted up with the founder to hear the way it turned out.

The corporate did go public as anticipated, although that’s not to say it went completely. The inventory traded down when it opened. Although the founder informed me that was “miserable as all hell,” he took it in stride and even noticed the brilliant facet, because it taught the staff an essential lesson: The inventory value is out of their management and all they will do is figure arduous.

The inventory went up the next quarters and is now at an all-time excessive, however that doesn’t imply it’s simple or the founder’s issues are solved. Life is completely different as a public-company CEO. The founder is getting used to being extra of a public individual, which is difficult, since he’s inherently introverted and personal. Moreover, he’s feeling the strain of performing. Completely different from after they had been personal, the corporate wants good numbers each quarter and even higher numbers the following quarter. “It snowballs,” he says.

The IPO has generated important wealth—his household is financially set for generations. However he feels duty to his workers and their households. Then there are the traders. “All of it falls on my shoulders,” he stated. His resolve has been to work across the clock, placing in 18 hours a day sacrificing time with his household and time sleeping. Whereas he enjoys work, he’s unsure how lengthy he can deal with it.  He’s trying ahead to getting some a lot want household time over the vacations.

I used to be joyful to hear how he responded with braveness to the strain to adapt to the general public market traders. In an effort to prioritize the long run over the quick time period—and in what I believe is a courageous and unorthodox transfer—he pulled offering quarterly steering. “I’m shocked others haven’t revolted,” he informed me. “We’re human beings, not robots.”

Only a few folks have the prospect to take an organization public and lead it to greatness. However it’s fraught with challenges for all who do. I hope this founder continues to search out assist and lean into doing what is correct for his firm and likewise takes care of his well being and private life.