CEO Defined

22 Entrepreneurs Explain What Being A CEO Means To Them

Here at CBNation, we love to hear what being a CEO means to different entrepreneurs and CEOs. We understand it entails a great responsibility and expectations from both the clients and the team you’re leading but its meaning varies with each CEO.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their definition of the word CEO and here’s what they had to say.

#1- Several things

Photo Credit: Usman Ali

Being a CEO is a 24/7 job you have to be continuously learning and generating new ideas for how you can grow your business. There one quote I really liked by Ray Lewis where he said Greatness is a thousand things done well, day after day. As the CEO of a business you need to ensure that the small things are done well and all the small things come together to create something that is truly great. Being a CEO is about leadership and putting others first a CEO is only as good as the people who are in his or hers team. You will have to sacrifice for your team so make sure you have people that are worth sacrificing for.

Thanks to Usman Ali, Boomerang Social!


#2- Challenges, Emotions, Operations.

Photo Credit: Amber Henrie

Challenges: The role of CEO is humbling, lonely, leadership, responsibility, and a daily adventure. Every day, you have no idea what your day is going to be like. Since I started my company, I’ve never had my day go in the same way that I expected it to go. Even on your worst day you have to show up with the best energy because everyone is looking to you. Emotions: My business partner had to tell me a lot when starting out to not take things so personally, but as founder and CEO, this company is my baby, my everything. The challenges are so intensely felt, but the triumphs are also awesome and validating. (And just like parenting an actual baby, the first five years are the hardest!) Operations: I didn’t expect to spend as much time operating the company, dealing with HR and client issues, stressing over finances, pitching new business and trying to find time to market myself and the company. I rarely get to pitch press (one of my favorite things), and struggle to find uninterrupted stints of time to focus on big-picture strategy and company vision. I spend more time behind a desk than in person with clients…and those days, watching my clients create and inspire, are my favorite days.

Thanks to Amber Henrie, In The Lights PR!


#3- Manager

Photo Credit: Steve Kurniawan

First, the most important job of the CEO is to manage the people below him, not to run everything by himself. Delegation is a very important skill to have here. It is also important to remember that CEO is a managerial role, and not a specialist role. When Mark Zuckerberg stepped up as a CEO of Facebook, his main role is to manage the business and no longer to code the plattform (even if he is indeed a very prominent programmer). As a CEO, your job is to manage, not to do it yourself.

Thanks to Steve Kurniawan, Nine Peaks media!


#4- Depends on two categories

Photo Credit: Thomas Unterseher

I would divide the definition of CEO into two categories: start-up and established. When we launched our company, I wore all the hats. My job was to first, make sure our business model worked for the industry and second, do anything the business needed to get off the ground. As we have grown, I have focused on hiring people who have the vision and drive to do what I did when we launched our company, and my role has shifted to making sure they have what they need to thrive. Our industry, e-commerce, is always changing. The team members who lead each of our divisions have to continuously innovate our business model to stay ahead of the curve. As CEO, I have to provide them with the resources they need to bring entrepreneurial energy to an established business.

Thanks to Thomas Unterseher, One World Direct!


#5-Corporate Culture Officer

Photo Credit: Brock Blake

There are many definitions of CEO, and even though that’s my official job title, I also think of myself as the company’s CCO: Corporate Culture Officer. While Lendio was born out of my own obsession with helping small business owners get access to growth capital, none of what we’ve built here could have come to fruition without a large group of people willing to buy in and share my obsession. Early on in building this business, I learned that the company culture and the workplace atmosphere are direct reflections of leadership. The values we cultivate in the C-suite trickle down through the entire company. Being a successful CEO also means being an effective CCO. Every day I aim to create a positive environment where employees can thrive, and in turn, grow our business.

Thanks to Brock Blake, Lendio!


#6- Setting priorities for the organization

It may not be the most obvious responsibility, but setting priorities for an organization may be the most important CEO responsibility. In my experience, it is also often overlooked and neglected. All CEO’s know that they must represent the organization externally and lead the organization internally. And all know they must embody the brand and inspire their employees. But the nature of all institutions is that they are inherently prone to disorganization and misalignment. In my view, being a CEO means working constantly to keep all stakeholders on the same page by setting priorities and ensuring they are executed earnestly.

Thanks to Lee McMillan, PeakSeason!


#7- Servant leadership

Photo Credit: Vince Youndt

Being a CEO can be different for each person. Some use it as an opportunity to be the BOSS, and others will use it as an opportunity to show those that work for them how to serve each other. I personally believe in servant leadership where I lead from the back and help my direct reports be better at their skill through encouragement rather than fear. My example here sets the stage for the culture of our company. We are a service company where customer service needs to be very high in order for us to be successful. If I can exemplify servanthood with my team the culture of our company will be based around how well we serve each other. The better we serve each other inside of the company, the better the outward customer experience will be. This type of leadership is hard to start, but incredibly powerful in the long run.

Thanks to Vince Youndt, Vertex Mechanical!


#8- Setting the bar

Photo Credit: James Lloyd-Townshend

For me, being a CEO is about setting the bar for the entire organization. A good CEO should motivate and inspire their colleagues and their employees to be the best they can be. As CEO, you are the figurehead for your business. Your actions, your attitude, your ambition all establish a tone that trickles down through the entire organization. After all, if you aren’t celebrating your achievements or shouting about your successes, why would anyone else?

Thanks to James Lloyd-Townshend, Nelson Frank!


#9- Three things

Photo Credit: Andrew Goren

I define being a CEO as part leader, part team player, and knowing when to be each of these. Being a CEO is both thrilling and humbling. With every decision, a CEO is responsible for the success of the company, which includes customer satisfaction and ultimately employee livelihood. As a young founder (20 yrs. old), I am often initially underestimated. However, I hold myself to high standards as I chart my path, quickly setting the right expectations. I hope to be an example for other young entrepreneurs and hopefully inspire them to bring their visions to life.

Thanks to Andrew Goren, Harmony Helper!


#10- Responsibility holder

Being a CEO means that I’m taking care of everyone around me and bearing the burden of the livelyhood of not only my family, but of the families that work for me in that company. As CEO the buck stops with me and everything in my company is my fault. Good or bad. Thus it is my responsibility and responsibility to be a force for good both personally and through my company.

Thanks to Dillon A. Mitchell, Kowabunga Studios!


#11- Incredible leadership

Photo Credit: Dr. Naveen Goel

To me, being a CEO means incredible leadership – continuously improving myself and the company so I can provide my team and clients the value they deserve. Every employee deserves a good leader; someone they can look up to, learn from and grow with. Same goes with the clients we work with. If I’m not consistently working on improving my leadership skills and the business, then it’s hard for everyone to succeed.

Thanks to Dr. Naveen Goel, HealthKOS!


#12- Determination

Photo Credit: Dawn Kelly

As a CEO of a healthy food and beverage quick serve MWBE restaurant, I believe my role demands steadfastness and determination in spite of challenges. I believe the definition of CEO demands that I do all I can, on a daily basis, to ensure that The Nourish Spot Inc always provides fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, composts and uses biodegradable products to reduce our waste and footprint upon the environment. The CEO keeps the brand’s promises to its interns, employees, customers, partners and community at large.

Thanks to Dawn Kelly, The Nourish Spot, Inc.!


#13- Motivator and enabler

Photo Credit: Jaspreet Singh

A CEO’s primary role is to be an enabler, to inspire others, and to help others reach their full potential. Our team drives our business day in and day out, and I see my role as helping to remove those roadblocks, whether it’s supporting a sales call, leveraging relationships with other industry execs, or helping troubleshoot development questions. At the same time, I believe people need equal parts motivation and inspiration to succeed and the job of a leader is to provide that inspiration. I take pride in challenging my teams, pushing them, and showing them the potential I see in their future.

Thanks to Jaspreet Singh, Druva!


#14- Pacesetter

Photo Credit: Chris Chancey

To me, a CEO is the person who ensures the overall success of an organization. A CEO is a visionary, strategic, and decisive leader who is able to inspire a team to execute the organization’s overarching vision and mission. Based on his leadership, the CEO sets the pace for every aspect of the organization including operational excellence, financial stability, performance, and culture. While an entrepreneur can be the CEO of their company, not all entrepreneurs have the skill set needed to be a CEO. An entrepreneur builds products/services, identifies the market, and lays down a plan to get the products/services to the market. A CEO, on the other hand, possesses the skills and competencies critical for providing direction for the company.

Thanks to Chris Chancey, Amplio Recruiting!


#15- Connector, planner and creator

Photo Credit: Jared Weitz

A Chief Executive Officer, it sounds fancy right? And something that so many people strive for without even really understanding what it actually means. As the main means of connection between the board of directors and the executive team, this person holds a great deal of responsibility and weight of the company. A CEO juggles a lot of hats, whether it is networking and public appearances, strategic financial planning or laying the foundation for the company’s culture. The CEO is a connector, a planner and a creator, a combination that is difficult to come by–but invaluable when you do.

Thanks to Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.!


#16- A mixed bag

Photo Credit: Dewayne Hamilton

Being a business owner is really a mixed bag. On one side, you don’t have to deal with any authorities that could potentially have a difference of opinion. You are free to work the way you want. On the other hand, if you’re not executing your idea in the right way, there’s little you’ll accomplish. It’s not enough to stay on the concept but to make actionable decisions that will help you achieve your goals. That means constant learning and adapting to the needs and wants of the customers. But it’s also a satisfying position because, in a way, you’re testing your own abilities when you embark on starting your own business.

Thanks to Dewayne Hamilton, Web Cosmo Forums!


#17- Recognisable representative

Photo Credit: Jess Gardiner

I have to consistently build the business strategy based on industry-relevant content which changes on a daily basis. My connection with our readers and community is vital to the success of The Assistant Room. This means that as a CEO, I must place more emphasis on my senior leadership team to manage a lot of the ‘regular’ heavy lifting so that I can constantly embrace a very hands-on approach, adapting to different cultures and ways of working/communication with our readers across the globe. As the face of the business, my priorities must always be our readers, global industry issues at the time and hot topics to drive online content on.

Thanks to Jess Gardiner, The Assistant Room!


#18- Role model

Photo Credit: James Dyble

To me being a CEO means being the role model of the company not just for employees but also to ensure our customers have full trust and confidence in the company at all times. Being CEO brings great responsibility and a high level of diligence is required at all times. It is important to keep a close eye on strategies and plans whilst enabling staff members to breath without being micro managed.

Thanks to James Dyble, Outsourcer!


#19- Assembling a musical supergroup

Photo Credit: Tyler Hakes

Being a CEO, to me, is like assembling a musical supergroup. It’s my job to give my team the tools they need to be successful. I need to find the right people and then shape the processes and the culture that surrounds our work so that smart and talented people can thrive and do their best work. At the end of the day, I am hiring people *because *I believe in their abilities and their talents. I’m paying them for their skills and expertise. So, my only goal is to put them in a position to put those talents to work in a way that generates the best possible outcome. I’m putting together the band, but they’re playing the music.

Thanks to Tyler Hakes, Optimist!


#20- Creative Empowerment Officer

Photo Credit: CoCo Vinny

In my day to day as the Creative Empowerment Officer I’m always challenged with creating optimistic solutions to helping keep our team inspired, engaged, and smiling. Our customers problems are our problems and our team members problems are my problems. It’s my job as CEO to empower and work consistently to anticipate the needs of our people and our partners. It’s more than a job or a title it’s a lifestyle and a passion to see to it that we help everyone succeed. This commitment if successful helps the economy, the community, and our company.

Thanks to CoCo Vinny, Coco Taps!


#21- Being a visionary

Photo Credit: Nancy Fitzgerald

For me, being a CEO is all about being a visionary. What I enjoy and what I’m really good at is being the big idea person—I come up with a grand concept, and I want my team to tell me how we’re going to get there. I work hard to hire the right butts for the right seats to execute my vision, find attainable solutions, and be strong gut checks for our pace and tactics. Outside of strategic business decisions, much of that vision has to do with our company’s culture and core values. I view my role as the CEO very much as the top ambassador of our brand and the way that we conduct business. I believe that being a CEO means being a visionary and an inspiration for the employees in your organization, who in turn take care of your customers and ensure that you succeed.

Thanks to Nancy Fitzgerald, iLendingDIRECT!


#22- Energy behind a company

Photo Credit: Sabina Gault

A CEO is more than just a founder or executive. A true CEO serves as the energy behind a company. Not every CEO is built to be a visionary, but the most successful leaders are in tune with the operation of their companies yet always have their mind on the next 10 years. I define a CEO as someone who lives, breathes, and works with the company mission in mind. CEOs may not work on the day-to-day procedures, but their actions and presence determine the future of the company.

Thanks to Sabina Gault, Konnect Agency!


What does being a CEO mean to you? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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