A phenomenon that’s been making the rounds is the idea that entrepreneurs think they can magically transform themselves into CEOs purely because they started a business.
Well, not quite sir/madam. Why? The hard cold truth is that most entrepreneurs simply do not encompass the skill set to be the CEO of their own organization. Simple as it can be, but this is one mistake that destroys more businesses than any other. And I’ll break it down for you:
1.You don’t know the difference between a CEO and an Entrepreneur
Doesn’t quite sound like the problem, but it is. Not knowing your role or what you’re cut out for can jeopardize a great innovation and years of hard work put into building a great venture. It may sound provocative to say this, but entrepreneurs are not CEOs-in-waiting. We need to stop thinking of them that way if we want to build truly successful and, above all, sustainable companies. We like to think of the great product developer or disruptive innovator as just the precursor to being the head of a hugely successful company. But the truth of the matter is, there are marked and critical differences between being a successful entrepreneur and a successful CEO.
Now don’t get it wrong, there are some people who can perform both roles at the same time. These are generally people who grew up in the corporate world and have real experience in the business world prior to starting their own business.
2.You don’t really want to be a CEO
Except boring logistical and administrative issues actually excites you, then you’re good. The truth is, as an entrepreneur, all you want is to be free to focus on the product, and if you’re faced with such issues as those that are meant for an executive officer, frustration might set in.
If you’re leading a company it’s simply not enough to focus on the product; that might get the journey started but provides no guarantees of getting to your destination in one piece, if at all. What’s key to a CEO’s success, and what can actually be favourable to an entrepreneur’s creativity, is structure. A CEO has to provide the working infrastructure around different hubs or engines of creativity if they want to do their job well. It’s less about providing the power, and more about harnessing it for a larger purpose or goal. CEO has to be a vehicle for sustainable success.
3.Your role is where your strength lies
In the same vein with every other phase of your career, you’ll definitely perform better in your area of strength. The key difference between an entrepreneur and CEO lies in their primary function. An entrepreneur needs to create a product or service. The onus is on them to create the "something from nothing" idea that gets the process started.
But a CEO can’t focus solely on getting things started because, as I said above, they need to provide the infrastructure for long-term success. In that sense, a CEO has to be more of an editor than a creator. His job is knowing when and what to cut away from new ideas to shape them (and the company) into the form that will ensure the highest chances of success.
4.You are thinking you can’t afford a CEO
You’re thinking you just started your business and can’t afford a CEO. Well, that may or may not be true. I know the thought of that may seem scary but if from everything we’ve highlighted, you realize you’re not cut out for the administrative life, you might need to get someone who is. And I’m not talking about a secretary. So, here is what you do:
Get yourself a partner; call that person a GM. A General Manager. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you everyone needs mentors and partners regardless of the size of their business (big or small), and that is true. What’s better is that they do not have to co-own your business except you feel like it. When you look for that partner, make sure they have skills you don’t. Too often we tend to partner up with people who have the exact same skill set, leaving a huge void in our business.
The truth is that many of us (myself inclusive) assume an entrepreneur who has successfully launched a startup will thrive as a CEO but thankfully, we now know that the two roles require vastly different, and often incompatible, skill sets.