CEO Defined

20 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- Two-way street

Photo Credit: Ritvij Gautam

The privilege to lead isn’t an opportunity to be seized upon by a single individual, but a responsibility nurtured through humility and mindfulness towards others. I may have built the foundation that my company rests upon, but the ferocity with which my team expands and enriches this foundation is why we are successful. It isn’t enough to be the source of expertise or inspiration. You must allow yourself to be taught and motivated by your team. This can only happen by creating a two-way street of empowerment.

Thanks to Ritvij Gautam, TryMyUI!


#2- Leading the way

Photo Credit: Casey Halloran

That often means doing all I can to demonstrate courage even while afraid and putting the interests of my team and my org before my own. It means taking care of my customers and my community. But more than anything, I believe being CEO means creating a vision for the future that is so bright, clear and compelling, it outweighs the darker times we need to get through to arrive there.

Thanks to Casey Halloran, Costa Rica Vacations!


#3- Realizing you have great power

Photo Credit: Dave Ramsey

Being a CEO means leading, and being a great leader is to realize you have great power, but seldom use it. In my book, EntreLeadership, I explain that ultimately the only power great leaders use to grow a quality team is the power of persuasion – pulling the rope rather than pushing it. We all know you can’t push a rope. If you want employees, then boss them around; if you want team members, explain why you do what you do. When they get the why, your team will think for themselves, make good decisions without you, and become your source of pride.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey, Entreleadership!


#4- A number of things

Photo Credit: Michelle Fraedrick

Being a CEO means early mornings, late nights, and no real vacations or breaks where you are disconnected from the real world. It means blaming yourself when things are not perfect, and celebrating others when things go great. Despite the high level of stress and the fast pace of today’s workplace, as an entrepreneur and a business owner, nothing brings more joy to my heart than seeing my employees succeeding and becoming better at what they do; a simple raise to an employee who has earned it or giving an opportunity to someone who doubts themselves and then seeing them shine, is my current definition of happiness.

Thanks to Michelle Fraedrick, Matcha Konomi!


#5- More than being a boss

Photo Credit: Sophie Bowman

Being a CEO means taking risks to challenge the status quo to disrupt industries enough to help change the world. It also means being a good leader. I’ve worked for horrible people in the past who spoke to us like slaves. I would never allow a bully-boss in my empire. Everyone should be respected and supported and motivated to achieve greatness.

Thanks to Sophie Bowman, Brand Branding PR LLC!


#6-Chief Empowerment Officer

Photo Credit: Misti Cain

A lot of times people think CEO means Chief Everything Officer – as in the head of the organization should know and be involved in everything within the company. I disagree. To me, being a dynamic CEO means being the Chief Empowerment Officer. As CEO, it’s your responsibility to create and solidify the company’s vision. Then, you’ve got to ensure the team working with you has everything they need to bring that vision to life; whether that means providing additional human capital, financial capital, ongoing development, knowledge, or confidence. At the end of the day, if the vision hasn’t been achieved, the accountability falls on the CEO.

Thanks to Misti Cain, Whyzze!


#7- Two things

Photo Credit: Matt Tuffuor

As a CEO, your responsibilities go far beyond the 9-5 workday for your team and organization. It’s your job to lead your team to that North-Star and to be willing to take the responsibility for when things go wrong. A CEO can see through the challenges of today because they are locked in on the target of tomorrow.

Thanks to Matt Tuffuor, Toasted Life!


#8- Inspiring

Photo Credit: Anthony Mixides

When I became a CEO I realised I had achieved my lifelong dream. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and being one of such a successful company has been amazing! The role of a CEO has certainly changed over the last 10 years as has the impression. A CEO used to be seen as the head of the company who was out of touch with normal people and ruling the company from one of their many mansions or his large isolated office in a building. Now it is common to see a CEO’s desk right in the midst of everyone else’s desk. Being a CEO means I have to live and breathe the ethos and direction that I want my company and staff to follow. It’s not do as I say and not as I do. I think it brings you more respect and people look to follow you and respect you, rather than just be intimidated by you. A CEO inspires through effective management, being fair and setting the right example for others to live up to and follow.

Thanks to Anthony Mixides, London Vape Company!


#9- Being imaginative

Photo Credit:Dr. Vikram Tarugu

A CEO’s job is enormously multidimensional. This is a position that requires that you focus not just at the greater scheme of things as well as at the internal dynamics of all operations in the workplace. To me, to be a CEO, implies to be imaginative. I needed to develop my company from the ground up, after all. I had to make choices about corporate culture, our principles, what we stood for, what we decided to do and how we had to do it. It was simplicity that was at the core of what I was seeking to do with Detox of the South. I tried to allow clients some versatility in respect to their performance management processes, and I realized I needed to incorporate consistency through my own business — if you want to offer anything, you’ve got to believe in something and practice it. I do believe becoming a CEO is more about honesty and openness.

Thanks to Dr. Vikram Tarugu, Detox of South Florida!


#10- Being the captain of the ship

Photo Credit: Melinda Nicci

I think of our business as a ship that I’m steering, a vessel that is on a journey to get to a destination. That journey has a map but I know it will not be smooth sailing and that the destination will move along the way. And it is my job as CEO to navigate those rough patches, tackle the challenges along the way so we can stay on course. I believe my role as CEO is to be the leader, to understand every aspect of the business at a high level but to let the experts I’ve employed in each department do their job. It’s hard sometimes not to get too involved but you can’t micromanage these areas, if you do you become bogged down in the day to day work and I need to keep my head above to continue to steer the whole business in the right direction. 2020 has seen massive 2x growth on 2019 for our business. When the COVID pandemic arrived, we saw a huge increase in demand for what we do and increased pressure placed on our relatively small team, all while in a remote working capacity. This is a prime example of an unpredictable storm that as CEO you have to somehow navigate the team through and try and capitalize on any growth opportunities. By the end of May we had reached our highest number of paid subscribers to date.

Thanks to Melinda Nicci, Baby2Body!


#11-Being drawn to the challenge

Photo Credit: Damian Turco, Esq.

Being the CEO of two entrepreneurial ventures, an 8 attorney law practice and a 5 employee legal tech start-up, I know the responsibility can feel underappreciated. You’re expected to shepherd the venture through every storm, solve every major problem that arises, steer the team to profitability, and then credit everyone but yourself for successes. Yet, we are drawn to the challenge because we realize the venture is bigger and more important than ourselves, and the potential success is limitless.

Thanks to Damian Turco, Esq., Turco Legal, PC!


#12- Ownership and more importantly, full accountability

Photo Credit: Simon Ensor

I believe that people perform best when they have ownership and accountability. It reduces space for inaction, excuses, or transfer of responsibility. Of course, this is highly applicable to CEOs and business owners. However, from experience, providing team members with this accountability not only demonstrates trust in their abilities but also produces greater end results.

Thanks to Simon Ensor, Catchworks!


#13- A tough yet flexible leader

Photo Credit: Alex Deutsch

A CEO has a responsibility towards his organization, his employees, and his customers. Sometimes, he takes tough decisions to make sure a company thrives, its team grows, and clients are happy. For example, when there are tough times like the COVID-19 pandemic, he does not hesitate to make bolder moves to ensure everyone’s safety. At the same time, he is flexible enough to embrace changes and new ideas. He let his people open up, share their views, and talk to him without hesitation. In short, a CEO is adaptable to change and lead people from the front.

Thanks to Alex Deutsch, Oasis Tile!


#14- Leader with a strong team

Photo Credit: Mitali Saxena

As the CEO of a start-up, you have to have a strong motivation behind you to do what you do every single day and believe in the company with all of your heart because it is far from the easiest job in the world. Being a CEO is not just a title position that makes you simply a large-scale supervisor – it means being a leader. As CEO, you are responsible for the direction of the company, the health of the company, the image of the company, and maintaining all of your own duties atop keeping an ear to the ground for all of your own department/team heads. There may be some days that are tougher than others but when you have a strong belief in the mission of your company and a team around you that believes just as strongly in that same mission, together you become a company as a whole. A CEO may be the leader of the company but without a strong team behind them that works just as hard in their own right, there would be nothing to lead.

Thanks to Mitali Saxena, FASHOM!


#15- A few things

Photo Credit: Ajay Pattani

Being a CEO means ensuring the health of the business both in its current and future states. This often requires the ability to motivate all team members to buy into a singular vision or mission. Aspects of this role include building and fostering a culture around the mission and values, keeping a close eye on cash flow, maintaining and building key relationships, and having that culture include learning and growth.

Thanks to Ajay Pattani, Perfect Search Media!


#16- Courage to follow your vision and convictions

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

Being CEO for me is a culmination of years of hard work and building my reputation and network to lead and inspire a team of great talent to help our clients achieve their goals. It is about creating a vision with the right environment to do our best work. It is a position of great responsibility and privilege and requires a strong moral compass, work ethic and sense of humor to do it well. It does not mean you are fearless it just means you
have the courage to follow your vision and convictions to achieve your goals and dreams. Like most entrepreneurs, I started off very bold by launching my new business amidst uncertainty and blind faith that I was onto something new and exciting seeing opportunity where others did not. It takes guts, persistence, determination and strength to get up every day and lead the charge and motivate others to join and follow your vision. It is just part of the entrepreneurial DNA.

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!


#17- Summiting a mountain

Photo Credit: Robert Fallon

One of the key elements of being a CEO is inspiring your team to work hard toward a common goal. Leading a company to success holds many parallels with summiting a mountain. Before embarking on an expedition, a mountaineer develops a solid plan and equips themselves both for the climb and for any contingencies they can expect. They plan their route, train physically, procure gear and hire the right guides. Similarly, CEOs plan a company’s path forward, develop and train their people, equip them with the right resources and position themselves for sound advice. Equally important is cultivating an environment that encourages strategic risk. Being willing to shoulder blame and to give credit where it’s due empower people to make bold decisions that often return a big reward.

Thanks to Robert Fallon, PHOSPLATIN THERAPEUTICS!


#18- Wearing many hats

Photo Credit: Kim Grennan

To me, being a CEO at a small business means wearing many hats to benefit my company, employees and my clients. If I need to step in and help with content creation, I do it. If I need to assist my bookkeeper, I’m there. If the office needs some tidying up, that’s on me. It’s not very glamorous, but each step in the journey of growing a business is rewarding! But my biggest focus is on our team–the people who make up our family. I believe that the key to any successful business is hiring people who are far smarter than you, then figuring out how to keep them happy so they stick around. With the right team, a CEO’s job becomes so much easier. Undoubtedly, being a CEO is so much more than the title.

Thanks to Kim Grennan, Axle Eight Marketing Agency!


#19- Freedom

Photo Credit: Starr Edwards

While the CEO craze is very real in the modern-day venture capital climate, I believe that you really need to foster a team and culture to succeed and that each team member is equally important. As a family-owned company that has never received private funding, our team is always striving to be as resourceful as possible, but the tradeoff for absolute freedom is worth it. This freedom allows us to grow our personal beliefs and philanthropies in meaningful ways. It’s also allowed me to spend a lot of quality time with my children and family, and I think that’s my biggest achievement.

Thanks to Starr Edwards, Bitchin’ Sauce!


#20- Leading by demonstration

Photo Credit: Michael Zipursky

Setting a clear vision for the company and rallying your team together so you’re all working to achieve that vision and make it a reality. It’s about supporting your team so that each person is doing their best work, learning new things, and growing not only the business but as people as well.

Thanks to Michael Zipursky, Consulting Success®!


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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