CEO Defined

26 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 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-Creating Value

Photo Credit: Katie Jarvis, MD, MBA

One trait I find all CEO’s have in common is our drive to create value. We all work to create value for our customers as we solve problems in efficiency, problems in service delivery, problems in customer satisfaction and help with complex compliance. We are all employers who create value by generating job growth, career paths and mentorships for our workers and collectively for the workforce. We get up early and work hard to create value in the lives of those around us. For me, it’s about my impact.

Thanks to Katie Jarvis, MD, MBA, Bed Beacon!


#2- One who leads and sets a vision in motion

Photo Credit: Simon Hansen

The reason why I became a sports blogger was that I felt that sports such as wakeboarding, paddleboarding, and racquetball deserved just as much recognition as more popular sports such as soccer and football. Rather than cry in my room all day and point fingers, I decided to do something about it. I became determined to shed more light on other sports and give a fresh perspective to the word ‘sports’ in general. I believe that entrepreneurs are people who acknowledge a problem and fix it to the best of their abilities.

Thanks to Simon Hansen, Best Sports Lounge!


#3- Cheerleader

Photo Credit: Domenix Carosa

Being a CEO means you have done the hard graft and various aspects of the business yourself. To me, being a CEO now means being a supporter of all my staff and giving them the tools and encouragement to fulfil their roles, and of course, continue my dreams. Being a CEO/founder, nobody will ever come close to caring as much about your business as you, so you need to be a cheerleader to give constant encouragement.

Thanks to Domenix Carosa, Bitcoin!


#4- Having high emotional intelligence

Photo Credit: Marcus Anwar

Being a CEO means having the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. Having high emotional intelligence is very important. The fact is motivating and mentoring your employees plays a key role in the success of your business. Your employees need to trust, respect and believe in your leadership. This is a key trait in being a successful CEO.

Thanks to Marcus Anwar, OhMy B.v!


#5- Responsibility holder

Photo Credit: Victor Fredung

For me, a CEO is mainly responsible for the direction of the business. This includes the business’s values, mission, vision, and overall strategy. It’s the CEO’s responsibility to make certain that all the puzzles fit together, come up with a plan, execute it, and make sure all the operations are handled in accordance with the pre-planned direction.

Thanks to Victor Fredung, Staff Timer!


#6- Having enough clear and concise vision

Photo Credit: Sean Walsh

As a CEO I focus most of my efforts on who we inspire to be as a brand and directing our team on what needs to be done to become just that.To do this best, I find I must remove myself from the busyness of the daily operations and spend time dreaming up the future of our company. Then, I must be able to step back into the hear and now, speak the language of the team, and accurately portray to them what our future looks like and what we need to do to get there. So what does being a CEO mean to me? It means that I need to have enough clear and concise vision for the future of our brand, that it inspires and motivates our team to take action and make it happen today.

Thanks to Sean Walsh, Walcraft Cabinetry!


#7- Knowing the ins and outs

Photo Credit: Nate Masterson

Being a CEO means knowing the ins and outs of your business and your company. I need to be able to answer any question any of my employees may have about any departments that I am in charge of. This is an ongoing process of staying up to date and learning all changes that are taking place under you. Knowing your employees well and knowing their strengths and moving them to positions where they can utilize those strengths to ensure they are being the most productive employees they can be. Ensuring productivity as a CEO means balancing managing your employees but giving them enough freedom that they don’t feel suffocated. Different employees require different levels of attention. An often overlooked aspect of being a CEO is making sure your employees take sufficient breaks so they don’t get burned out.

Thanks to Nate Masterson


#8- A number of things

Photo Credit: Pascal Thellmann

A CEO isn’t just the captain that steers the ship, he’s also the sail that pushes it forward, the wood that keeps it afloat, and the cook that keeps the crew satisfied. The cliché that CEOs only focus on strategy and management couldn’t be further from the truth. A great CEO will also actively talk to clients to understand their problems, have a good grasp of marketing, understand the ins and outs of the company’s finances, and ensure that the
team’s needs are always met.

Thanks to Pascal Thellmann, CoinDiligent!


#9- Representative of the company

No matter the industry, being a CEO means I’m representing not just myself, but the company I built and stand behind, and the industry I am a part of. This means that being ethical and fair in everything I do matters because that is the basic foundation of trust—without trust, those who work for and with you won’t do it happily or well, and customers/potential customers will shy away because they can’t be sure you won’t hurt them if it came down inconveniencing yourself or inconveniencing them. My reputation is based solely on my actions, my company’s reputation is based on my actions and those who work with/for me, and industry’s reputation is based on my actions and those everyone who work within that niche, so I must do my part to maintain a good one in order to grow.

Thanks to Josephine Fan, Long Island Aikikai!


#10- Master of my own destiny

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

Being an entrepreneur means I am able to be the master of my own destiny. Entrepreneurship allows me to be flexible and nimble as a business owner. I work hard, but I am also able to maintain a proper work-life balance within my life. I love that entrepreneurship gives me so many opportunities on a day-to-day basis!

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!


#11- Being altruistic

Photo Credit: Evan Brandoff

As a CEO, I am encouraged everyday by not just growing LeagueSide, but also by making sure that my employees and team flourish in their careers. It is important to me that I am always helping others grow within their roles while also making sure everything they do positions the company to a higher level.

Thanks to Evan Brandoff, LeagueSide!


#12- Truly rewarding

Photo Credit: Dave Thornton

As the founder of Thornton & Lowe, a business which has just recently celebrated ten successful years, I’ve reflected on the journey and the lessons learnt amongst the way. Launching a business during the UK recession in 2009 was just the start of challenges that as a business owner you face everyday. Remembering to take a step back to celebrate success and achievements has always been important to me. Witnessing the results of the hard work of myself, and the team, is the best reminder of why I chose to start my own business ten years ago, and motivates us all to continue to excel.

Thanks to Dave Thornton, Thornton & Lowe!


#13- Having creative control

Photo Credit: Matt Tomkin

My favourite aspect of being a business owner is being in absolute control over any decisions and it’s development plans. Running a business is challenging, but it should also be exciting! I’m a creative entrepreneur with lots of passion to open up new opportunities to grow and improve the business and my team. Having the freedom to use my skills where I see fit has been a key factor in starting my own business.

Thanks to Matt Tomkin, Tao Digital Marketing!


#14- Putting people first

Photo Credit: Jamie Reardon

As a CEO, there is one key emphasis that has stayed with me throughout my career: people matter. This focus spans customers, employees, shareholders and strategic partners. Putting people first will quickly escalate your company’s success. I am forever grateful that in my role as CEO and co-founder of Find Your Influence that our team carries this people-first mindset daily.

Thanks to Jamie Reardon, Find Your Influence!


#15- Several things

Photo Credit: Justin C. Lowenthal, Esq.

Being a CEO of a small, but growing law firm means that I have to be the chief innovator, technologist, rainmaker, and support system for our attorneys and paralegal staff. Most of my time is spent assisting others and working on macro-level issues for the firm. While I miss being able to just be an attorney, helping others in our office find success to achieve the greater goal of growing our firm is just as, if not more, rewarding.

Thanks to Justin C. Lowenthal, Esq., Lowenthal APC!


#16- Living and breathing the culture

Photo Credit: Erik Bergman

Great dot com is a unique organization that is completely remote, practices radical transparency, allows employees to set their own salaries, and donates 100% of profits to charities. Operating an organization like this puts a lot of responsibility on me as the CEO and the face of Great dot com. I must live and breathe the culture for which I want the organization to stand. I try my best to lead by example in everything I do inside and out of the company. This could mean pausing a team meeting if one of the other employees is having a personal issue and spend time talking through it – if they want. It means holding myself to a higher standard in my personal life and on platforms like Instagram where my actions directly represent Great.com. Finally, because I wish to donate 100% of Great’s profits to charity, I’ve also vowed to double any personal contributions to approved charities made by our employees.

Thanks to Erik Bergman, Great.com!


#17- Creating a positive work environment

Photo Credit: John Rampton

To me, being a CEO means setting the best example for my team by leading and propelling them forward. I take my team’s feedback into consideration and try to implement the best possible work environment. I let my team take charge of their tasks. This gives my team the freedom and responsibility to accomplish their tasks in such a way that they are not being micromanaged. I also try to protect my time as well as everyone else’s for the benefit of the team. I don’t choose to hold unnecessary meetings, I put everything on my calendar so my team knows when I’m available, and I encourage them to do the same. I believe these things help to create a positive work environment my team enjoys being in. After all, they are the people behind the curtain that heavily contribute to my company’s success. I’m just there as a leader to guide them through it, hold them accountable, and set them up for success in the process.

Thanks to John Rampton, Calendar!


#18- Creating freedom

Photo Credit: Adam Hempenstall

For me, being a CEO means having the freedom to create the kind of company that you want to work in, the kind of company that others love working for. Work provides a lot of meaning in life but it should not be the definite purpose of life. So, my ideal company has: A fully remote team, flexible working hours, a focus on goals rather than time spent behind the screen and in the office, a flat hierarchy so that everyone is equal, a culture that rewards progress and learning. This is my biggest success as a CEO – creating a company that people love working for. I created freedom not only for myself but for people working for me as well.

Thanks to Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals!


#19- Readiness to evolve and adapt

Photo Credit: Greg Berezowski

My most recent observation is that being a CEO means being ready to evolve quickly and adapt to your organization needs. To do that one needs to understand how he/she can bring the most value to the company and focus on that delegating everything else. As the leader of a team of 10 it was easy for me to control every aspect of our daily operations and work on the future development of the company. When my company doubled in size within a few months, I realized my lack of certain managerial skills is becoming an obstacle for further growth. Admitting this was a tough one. But I made the decision to appoint a COO and hand over the daily operations to her. It helped me focus on strategy and product development, which reignited our company growth. It would not be possible if I tried to stick to the old setup or insisted on improving my weaknesses instead of leveraging strengths.

Thanks to Greg Berezowski, NapoleonCat!


#20- Subordinate to the janitor

Photo Credit: Jon Brodsky

It’s my job to make sure that everyone here can do their job effectively and with as little friction as possible, and that friction includes making sure that there’s nothing that distracts people from having the best possible workday. So if the bathroom isn’t clean or the coffee isn’t made, that falls to me to get done. Of course, part of being a CEO is also hiring the right people to make sure that stuff gets done. This also involves putting processes in place to make it easier to get more stuff done. I don’t forget that I work for everyone here, not the other way around.

Thanks to Jon Brodsky, Finders US!


#21- Mentoring and developing

Photo Credit: Karmel Larson

Being a CEO means growing your business through mentorship and development of the people that work for you. At Momni, we have the mentality that if it’s better for the individual employee, it’s better for the business. A CEO is responsible for being a visionary who helps the entire team achieve its highest goals. Operating in the context of maximizing the potential of each employee means that we have a team of top performers who are excited about moving the mission of our company forward. The best way to ensure your business will succeed is to invest in the mentorship and loyalty of your team. You can’t do it alone.

Thanks to Karmel Larson, Momni!


#22- A lot of worries!

Photo Credit: Danni Zhang

Being a Founder/CEO of a small operation is difficult in the sense that there is no level of management to rely on. Being a small team, being CEO involves taking care of the business as a whole on top of meeting individual client needs. It’s problem-solving non-stop; similar to putting out spot fires.

Thanks to Danni Zhang, New Vision Psychology!


#23- Chief Energizer/Empowerer/Engagement Officer

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

The energy, vision and culture starts at the top of any organization so I see my role as setting the tone, attracting the right team and motivating them to achieve greatness together. The original dream for the company started with me but if they do not embrace it too and internalize our goals we will never achieve what we set out to accomplish. As the leader it has to be bigger than me for us to be successful. Together we are stronger than the individual parts if I do my job well.

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!


#24- Selflessness

Photo Credit: Gary Stevens

Like it or not, when you become CEO your needs and wants should never come first again. My decisions are forever owed to my employees, my business and any other stakeholders I may have. The start and endpoint of every thought I have is “what will this do to the company”. Some hear this and can barely handle the hypothetical pressure, but I believe there is something in the mind of a CEO that separates them from others. A great CEO wants to provide, wants to expand on their staff’s success and looks for every opportunity to make those with an interest in the business proud. “All others first” should be the mindset of any given CEO and those who think differently shouldn’t expect anyone who would work with them to put the business first either.

Thanks to Gary Stevens, Hosting Canada!


#25- Communicating and being of service

Photo Credit: Tom Eddington

Being a CEO or any kind of leader in today’s world requires a new paradigm: after experiencing a life-debilitating illness that nearly killed me, I realized that conscious living and leading was the only sustainable approach. Being a Conscious Leader requires self-awareness, self-reflection, clearly communicating the organization’s mission to your team, remaining accountable, being present with others, embracing creativity throughout the organization and building a thriving community within the workplace. Being a CEO means you are of service to others: employees, customers, suppliers and the world at large. Our decisions have an impact. It is my life’s mission to make it a positive one.

Thanks to Tom Eddington, Eddington Advisory Services!


#26- The meaning changes over time

Photo Credit: David Waring

As our business has reached new levels of scale, much of what being a CEO means to me has evolved. In the early days of FitSmallBusiness, it was just my business partner and myself. But now that we’ve expanded to over 100 employees, my day-to-day is very different. Throughout this journey, however, I’ve continued to be responsible for molding the business’s culture and leading its overall strategy. Given that these have been
constants for me across all levels of scale, I ultimately think they are at the heart of what it means to be a CEO.

Thanks to David Waring, FitSmallBusiness.com!


What does being a CEO mean to you (define being a CEO, entrepreneur or business owner)? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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