30 Entrepreneurs Explain What Being A CEO Means To Them

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Here at CB Nation, 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- Establishing the tone of the organization

Photo Credit: Jake Marmulstein

A CEO, as the leader, establishes the tone of the organization, guiding employees on how to think, act, and behave. This requires constant adaptation as different needs arise and the business landscape changes. Leaders work to ensure work environments remain uplifting and comfortable, even if the work is done remotely. When executives, directors, and managers are positive and encouraging, people will feel right at home and ready to contribute.

Thanks to Jake Marmulstein, Groundbreaker!


#2- Creating a collaborative & leadership-based culture

Photo Credit: Laura Jackson Loo

Being a CEO means I am a visionary. However, even visionaries don’t operate in a vacuum! I believe the most important part of being a visionary CEO is the talent that surrounds me. Every employee or team member represents a goldmine of talent and potential. One of my mottos that applies to everyone I work with is their ability to ‘Be Seen, Be Heard, and Be Valued.” Value also includes pay equity, but it begins with every employee's innate value they bring to their role.

Thanks to Laura Jackson Loo, Laura Jackson Loo!


#3- The greatest gift of my life

Photo Credit: Maggie Rose Macar

Being a CEO feels very much like an alien term that is hard to understand unless you are one. That being said, being a CEO has become one of the greatest joys of my life. While others may look at what I do day to day as being completely obsessed and submerged within one company brand and direction, they see the stress that comes from managing a team of employees and interns. Where they see the lack of time to go out and build additional relationships- I see the greatest gift of my life.

Thanks to Maggie Rose Macar, Therapute!


#4- CEO is one of the loneliest jobs

Photo Credit: Scott Brighton

CEO is one of the loneliest jobs, and there is definite truth to that. You must project certainty in the face of uncertainty, and you must display unwavering confidence even if you don’t have it. You get to experience the impact of talented people accomplishing things they might not ordinarily believe they can accomplish. Creating clarity and confidence in the face of lots of headwinds that can undermine both so that people can do amazing things for society and customers.

Thanks to Scott Brighton, The Abbi Agency!


#5- Provide inspiration

Photo Credit: Tom Mohr

CEOs need to provide inspiration, ethical leadership, informed decision-making, and equitable initiatives for their employees & customers. They are the ultimate cheerleaders and supporters for their teams who provide direction for company growth. Being a CEO means living & breathing your business, the people who work for it, and the responsibility of shouldering many people’s livelihoods with your decisions. Today business leaders influence societal changes with their policies and public actions.

Thanks to Tom Mohr, Tommohr!


#6- Choosing a life of giving direction

Photo Credit: Jaimee Campanella

Choosing a life of giving direction, taking responsibility, being open to leading, and being willing to learn and grow! Being a business owner is making an agreement with yourself to be your own boss. With this comes an unspoken agreement to find ways for your own personal self-development and self-accountability. Being in this role means looking for opportunities to receive feedback and acknowledgment so you have a balance system for your own development and growth.

Thanks to Jaimee Campanella, Jaimee Campanella!


#7- Giving back to the people

Photo Credit: Dan Green

Being a CEO is about giving back to the people around me. My role is to bring different stakeholders together around a single vision and create a balanced journey that gets all of them excited to stay involved for the long term. Creating jobs & growth opportunities delivering customer product needs & growing value for investors all at the same time can be near impossible. One constant focus has to be mastering prioritization & being transparent to everyone involved so that we can all be successful together.

Thanks to Dan Green, TruePlan!


#8- Build processes that formed an attitude

Photo Credit: Pauline Volovik

My attitude to a CEO position and entrepreneurship has been forming for a long time. I happened to take up management functions involuntarily since there was no one else to do it. And it was the need to lead people and build processes that formed an attitude I live with now. For me, an entrepreneur is the one who builds: builds a team, builds relations, builds business processes, and builds a product. And the one who takes responsibility for his ideas, decisions, and people.

Thanks to Pauline Volovik, Рv-digitallab!


#9- Entity that continues your legacy of touching lives

Photo Credit: Dr. Azmaira Maker

When you lead an organization, you define its values as well as its path. You create the environment it will grow in and adopt best practices that will help you fulfill the vision you have for it. You build the foundation of the organization in such a way that, even after you, it can carry on the legacy of your ideas and principles, bringing about change and enhancing the lives of many. In a nutshell, being a leader is all about creating an entity that will continue to impact lives even beyond your years.

Thanks to Dr. Azmaira Maker, Aspiring Families!


#10- Power to merge the best of old with new

Photo Credit: Riley Beam

You have the power to experiment with innovation, and this is an advantage that can transform organizations and even industries. This power to change the way things are done and the ability to merge the best of the traditional with the latest in technology and management are advantages that are unique to leaders. Whether it is the workings of an operation, products, and services, or employee-related best practices, leaders can conceive new ideas and lead innovations that can disrupt entire industries.

Thanks to Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A!


#11- Nothing like starting a company

Photo Credit: David Batchelor

To me, being a CEO/Entrepreneur is one of the best experiences you can have in life. There is nothing like starting a company and then seeing it grow into a successful small business. Not only do you become a successful CEO but you also share your journey with the employees you hire during the process. As an entrepreneur with several successful small business ventures under my belt, I will continue to strive for success for as long as I can and learn from the failures that happened because learning from those is key.

Thanks to David Batchelor, DialMyCalls!


#12- Perceive from pragmatic & philosophical perspectives

Photo Credit: Rafał Młodzki

Perceive being a CEO both from pragmatic and philosophical perspectives. The scientific part of my mind thinks that as a CEO I simply run the business by building organization, setting directions, measuring effects, making decisions, and increasing income. The humanistic Rafal adds some deeper value to this raw image. The fish rots from the head, and I want to be a “healthy” head. I’m at the top of the organization, so I'm accountable for inspiring my people and creating a valuable work environment.

Thanks to Rafał Młodzki, Passport Photos & Visa Photos Online!


#13- Building loyalty

Photo Credit: Ray Leon

Being a CEO means building loyalty & shaping perspectives. I’m fueled by the responsibility and challenge of putting smiles on customers' faces. It gives me the valued opportunity to influence legions of people and businesses alike. I’m driven by the idea of establishing a brand forged by innovation, creation, and passion. Every relationship made, transaction completed, and goal achieved is an invaluable building block towards satisfying this desire it is an everlasting process forged by brand loyalty.

Thanks to Ray Leon, Pet Insurance!


#14- Be visionary

Photo Credit: Morgan McArthur

Being a business owner allows me to be visionary, while my integrators actualize what is best for our industry & customers. I’ve played many parts in the business, but none as fulfilling as this leadership role where I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the growth & wealth creation of people customers & team members alike. Having the opportunity to provide the value & excellent quality of service I would like to receive, & guide my team members to the same level of excellence for the betterment.

Thanks to Morgan McArthur, Millionaire Mind Events!


#15- Assuming the role of creating

Photo Credit: Renwick Brutus

Being a CEO means assuming the role of creating, co-creating and executing a vision for the enterprise. It means establishing or shaping its culture and leading yourself and others to bring out their best in identifying, organizing and deploying resources to seize opportunities and achieve the mission of the organization. And it means exquisite attention to the needs of all of its stakeholders; owners, employees and their families, customers, communities, vendors and suppliers.

Thanks to Renwick Brutus, Achievement Resources!


#16- Feels like being the man of the house

Photo Credit: Kimberly Silva

Being a CEO of feels like, I’m the man of the house who has to run every single errand. Managing the whole team, thinking about bringing the best, taking tough decisions, and running for a better future all look heavy and tough. It gives me a sense of confidence. It allows me to get up every day with a new task in my mind to complete. It's like a mission to me and gets rewards at the end of the day in the form of respect from employees who trust me.

Thanks to Kimberly Silva, Find People First!


#17- Consists of creating better chances

Photo Credit: Meera Watts

Being a CEO, in my opinion, consists of creating better chances and something unique. As CEO, you are responsible for both the team and the firm achieving their goals. You can build a workplace where everyone is committed to doing their best work with the correct vision and leadership. The position of CEO comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also comes with a lot of satisfaction. Your skills will determine whether the business succeeds or fails.

Thanks to Meera Watts, Siddhi Yoga International!


#18- Being a visionary leader

Photo Credit: Timothy Bramlett

To me, being a CEO means being a visionary leader. It means having the ability to see the big picture and develop a clear strategy for achieving long-term goals. It also means being able to inspire others to buy into your vision and work collaboratively towards common goals. Being a CEO also comes with a great deal of responsibility. As the head of an organization, you are responsible for making decisions that will impact not only the bottom line but also the lives of employees and shareholders.

Thanks to Timothy Bramlett, Notifier!


#19- Someone who secures a company's success

Photo Credit: David Wurst

A CEO is someone who secures a company's success & continued growth by constantly strategizing & devising innovative solutions to stay ahead of the competition & keep up with changing consumer requirements and preferences. A CEO is someone who is receptive to new ways of doing things & one who is willing to pivot as long as it contributes to the business's success. CEO requires the capacity to make decisions quickly & with conviction in order to secure long-term corporate growth

Thanks to David Wurst, Webcitz!


#20- Making an impact

Photo Credit: Peter Lucas

In whatever capacity I am working in, I always aim to make an impact and add value. Whether it is through developing new strategies for the company or by supporting and motivating my team, I strive to make a positive difference. I am always looking for ways to optimize and improve upon things, as well as challenge the status quo. It is through this mindset that I have been able to effect change in both my personal and professional life, and it is something that I continue to work on every day.

Thanks to Peter Lucas, Relocate to Andorra!


#21- Bring my vision into reality

Photo Credit: Archie Payne

It means having the ability to bring my vision for the company into reality. When you work for someone else’s company your role is carrying out their vision—even if you’re in a leadership role and have some decision-making power, your job is to make decisions that support the mission, values, and goal outlined by others. Having that agency and responsibility to work toward your own vision of what the company should be is, in my mind, the most valuable part of being in ownership.

Thanks to Archie Payne, CalTek Staffing!


#22- Not simply about doing the work

Photo Credit: Struan Baird

To me, being an entrepreneur means working for something more than the sake of working. I am not simply completing tasks to get a monthly paycheck. Instead, I am investing my time, money and energy into something I believe in – something bigger than me. If that means late nights sometimes, so be it. If that means taking a pay cut, so be it. It is not simply about doing the work, but what I am working towards.

Thanks to Struan Baird, Luxury Scotland Tours!


#23- Ability to make business judgments

Photo Credit: Victoria Mendoza

In my view, CEOs with critical thinking refers to the ability to make business judgments based on careful consideration and foresight. With the responsibility of running the company and ensuring its success, many CEOs must analyze data and consider factors such as the economy and competitors to forecast what the company may face in the future and plan accordingly. Having a critical mind will also assist CEOs in developing problem-solving skills and thinking creatively

Thanks to Victoria Mendoza, MediaPeanut!


#24- Being both a team player and a leader

Photo Credit: Chris Roth

Being a CEO puts you in a position where you want to both, inspire and lead your team, and also take part in the smaller intricacies and daily workings of your business. On one hand, it is your responsibility to leave instructions and ensure that everything is running according to plan. Yet on the flip side, you're equally involved in bringing this vision to life as you work alongside your workforce. Essentially, as a CEO you end up playing two roles — one of a leader and one of a team player.

Thanks to Chris Roth, Highline Wellness!


#25- Being the change

Photo Credit: Jack Klauber

As a business owner, you will have the opportunity to contribute to society. It is my honor to provide our team with an exceptional work environment. One of my favorite things about working on our team is seeing their excitement when they learn something new or accomplish something that they have been working towards.. I am able to solve problems that my customers and employees face in a creative way because I have the power to make decisions.

Thanks to Jack Klauber, Everyday Dose!


#26- In a self-growth journey

Photo Credit: Leonardo Gomez

The core reason for starting my business was to grow as a person. I wanted to explore different avenues in life, and entrepreneurship was just the best fit. With the least restrictions, I was set to finally deliver and bring something innovative into the world which is now well perceived by our customers. Currently, being a CEO gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction in this self-growth journey as I proceed towards improving every day and making the right decisions for me and my business as and when required.

Thanks to Leonardo Gomez, Tryrunball!


#27- Being a CEO means being accountable

Photo Credit: Ryan O’Donnel

When you're running your own business, you make your own decisions, and no one keeps you in check. As a CEO, you have to make informed decisions and be responsible for them. When a CEO takes responsibility for their decisions, employees feel confident with the leadership. You also have to be self-motivated to move forward. You need to always strive for improvement and step out of your comfort zones to open more opportunities and drive profitability for your business.

Thanks to Ryan O’Donnel, Replyify!


#28- Freedom and autonomy

Photo Credit: Shakib

It means being free to make all of the decisions that guide my destiny, and that I’ve achieved the dream that I’ve pursued most of my teenage and adult life. That my choices are mine, and I’m ultimately responsible for whether I succeed or fail, and can’t blame anyone else for anything that happens to me. That sense of professional and financial autonomy and freedom makes me wake up with a smile and a spring in my step every single day, eager to face whatever challenge life decides to throw at me.

Thanks to Shakib, WAMA Underwear!



#29- Responsible for the success or failure of the company

Photo Credit: Nirav Sheth

While everything we do is a team effort, ultimately, our company’s success reflects a leadership vision that flows top-down. From the team we’ve assembled, the mission we’ve given ourselves, to our core values and priorities, our culture starts at the door. Likewise, I look at our failures to see what I as the CEO could have done differently. By holding myself ultimately accountable I accept and learn from my mistakes while savoring our successes with a sense of relish that makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks to Nirav Sheth, Anatta!


#30- Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle

Photo Credit: Swapnil Chaturvedi

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle; you need to work without having to look at the clock. It’s the ability to have the courage to take risks. It isn’t a characteristic that came naturally to anyone, so I needed to learn to trust myself and just go for it. It’s crucial to understand that you will make a lot of mistakes when starting your own business, but it’s essential to be decisive and not be afraid of making them. Running a company is always two steps forward, and one step backward – especially in the beginning.

Thanks to Swapnil Chaturvedi, Rozgaar India!


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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