30 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- Having a clear vision

Photo Credit: Matt Wilson

Being a CEO, to me, is about having a clear vision for what you want to achieve and then inspiring and motivating others to help you make it happen. It's about being the driving force behind your company and always looking for ways to take it to the next level. It's also about being willing to take risks because you'll never achieve anything great without them. And finally, it's about always learning and growing, because the day you stop learning is when your company starts to decline. I'm sure there are many other definitions, but this is what being a CEO means to me.

Thanks to Matt Wilson Lift Your Game!


#2- Being an effective leader and decision-maker

Photo Credit: Brian Clark

As a CEO you need to make decisions, that will not always be about your technical niche. To make the right decision, you would need to call on your experience, meet employees and trust your intuition. Since a CEO is the one taking decisions, they are also expected to lead the organization. They need to relate to the core values, the employees, and the working of the company. They are the ones who are expected to guide a company out of a crisis and take accountability in case of mismanagement.

Thanks to Brian Clark, United Medical Education!


#3- Being able to help others

Photo Credit: Kaley Tawadros

It means being able to help others in the field grow their business. I’m a social media manager and I help small businesses grow their online presence. Helping others grow and succeed is the motivation I have to do what I do every day. It also means being financially independent and controlling my time. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but the most rewarding. They should be able to understand the needs of their customers and employees. Advocating for the employees should be a big part of the job.

Thanks to Kaley Tawadros, Social Society Marketing!


#4-  The senior most person

Photo Credit: Andy Kalmon

For me, being a CEO means that you're the most senior person in the organization. You have legal, political, and professional power over key decisions being made at the company, and you are ultimately responsible for the well-being of the business. While you're maintaining the internal policies of the corporation, you're also shaping and guiding external positions. They should also be able to understand the market trends and how they can help their company grow.

Thanks to Andy Kalmon, Benny!


#5- Public face of the company

Photo Credit: Daivat Dholakia

As a CEO, you're the public face of the company. You're the personification of your company, basically. You should be able to embody the values that your company stands for and be an example for your entire team on what it means to live by those values. Successful CEOs realize that they're the ones their company will look to for direction, not only in tough situations but also in how to conduct themselves daily. Advocating for the employees should be a big part of the job.

Thanks to Daivat Dholakia, Essenvia!


#6- Like being a coach

Photo Credit: Tom Monson

Being a CEO is kind of like being a coach: Being a business owner, to me, is a lot like being a coach. It’s all about leadership and putting your employees in the right places with the right game plan. And just like for a coach, you can’t do everything yourself, you have to trust that you’ve picked the right people and trained them the right way. You get all of the credit when things work out and all of the blame when things don’t. At the end of the day, you’re in charge and you call the plays.

Thanks to Tom Monson, Monson Lawn & Landscaping!


#7- Leader and an innovator

Photo Credit: Lionel Mora

Being a CEO means being a leader and an innovator. As the CEO of my company Neoplants, I have the privilege of leading a team of gifted and passionate scientists in our field. They look to me for guidance and inspiration on hard days and I must come through for them. As my company's head, the example I set trickles down. Therefore, I strive to show my team a calm, compassionate, and strong leader every day so that we can all be successful.

Thanks to Lionel Mora, Neoplants!


#8- The captain of my own ship

Photo Caption: Shahzaib Arshad

To me, being a CEO means being the captain of my own ship. It means having the courage to chart my own course and the freedom to steer in any direction I choose. It also means taking responsibility for my own success or failure, and knowing that only I can determine my ultimate destiny. In today's rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt and pivot is more important than ever. As a CEO, I have the agility to change course when necessary and the vision to see opportunities where others do not.

Thanks to Shahzaib Arshad, TheBalanceWork!


#9- All about taking risks

Photo Credit: Josh Craven

I believe that being an entrepreneur or business owner is all about taking risks. When you start your own business, you are taking a risk. You are putting your time, money, and energy into something that may or may not succeed. However, the potential rewards are great. If your business is successful, you can reap the financial rewards, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you have built something from scratch.

Thanks to Josh Craven, Sprint Funding!


#10- The catch-all person

Photo Credit: Emma Guo

It's so easy to spend the entire day in hyper-execution mode and not have time to take a step back and invest in building a clear vision and strategy and also communicating that to the team, which is the most important job of the CEO. No one else can do this for you, and it's far more important than all the tasks at hand combined. Every day before I open my inbox or slack, the first thing I do is check our north star metrics performance and review our company strategy.

Thanks to Emma Guo, Offsyte!


#11- An integral position

Photo Credit: Rhett Stubbendeck

As a business CEO of a private company, I believe the Chief Operating Officer is an integral position in any company. The CEO is the person in command of the general direction, overall management, and company policies. To put it simply, as a CEO, I ensure that my company is headed in the right direction. For that purpose, I mensure that every employee is invested in the company’s progress and that their interests align with itssuccess.

Thanks to Rhett Stubbendeck, LeverageRx!


#12- The world to me

Photo Credit: Jonathan Gans

Being a CEO means the world to me. In addition to being responsible for the overall health of your organization, one of your most important duties is to protect the mental well-being of your employees and team members and shield them from unnecessary stress. There are going to be difficult situations that pop up that you'll have to handle and fires you'll have to put out that add a layer of stress to your role, and that's a burden that you have to take on alone.

Thanks to Jonathan Gans, Kahana!


#13- Creating and running

Photo Credit: James Green

Being a CEO means creating and running something that not only makes me successful, but that becomes so successful that my entire team can achieve their own levels of success. Creating an environment where everyone wins is the key to finding massive success. Being a CEO isn't about finding your own massive success. It's about helping the rest of your team find massive success. In so doing, you can't help but find your own success.

Thanks to James Green, Cardboard Cutouts!


#14- Seeing my dreams come to life

Photo Credit: Christel Oerum

From my perspective, a CEO is someone who can achieve everything they set their mind to, no matter what obstacles they may face on the way to creating success for their business. They can juggle many tasks, take on any challenges that could limit their entrepreneurial growth, and they are willing to risk it all to ensure that their brand and business make waves in the industry! As a business owner or CEO, I get to fine-tune the bits and pieces.

Thanks to Christel Oerum, Diabetes Strong!


#15- Freedom

Photo Credit: Nathan Singh

As a CEO, I know my position as head of my organization, a team player, a joiner, a facilitator of excellent delivery, a good judge, and a shepherd of the sheep with managerial skills and inner drive. To me, being a CEO means I have the freedom to exercise my creativity. I am my own Boss and can not be pushed around by somebody else. I know I am the center of gravity that holds together the people that make up the organization. My power is not to make my employees feel less of themselves but rather help them believe in themselves.

Thanks to Nathan Singh, Greater Property Group!


#16- Being a thought leader

Photo Credit: Chris Martinez

Being a CEO means being a thought leader in a subject that I’m passionate about, and leading a team who shares that passion. It’s what allows us all to find fulfillment in our common goal and celebrate those shared successes. As a co-CEO and co-founder with Kevin Yang for seven years now, it’s been even more impactful to realize our dream together — with someone who’s worked just as hard and wanted it just as bad. Being a CEO brings fulfillment into my life and autonomy over my work.

Thanks to Chris Martinez, Idiomatic!


#17-  Responsible for the organization's survival and growth

Photo Credit: Shaun Martin

In my view, the chief executive officer (CEO) is the individual who is ultimately responsible for the organization's survival and growth. Accountability for developing, coordinating, executing, and integrating an organization's long-term strategic plan to achieve its financial objectives. To be successful, he must be able to make challenging choices that align with the company's beliefs, priorities, and objectives. To become an effective CEO, you must be creative and hardworking with relevant professional experience.

Thanks to Shaun Martin, Cash For Houses!


#18- To lead by example

Photo Credit: Greg Gillman

As a CEO you need to embody the entire culture of your company, making your primary role to lead by example. CEOs have to encompass confidence in the company vision and create an aura of authority, but at the same time be approachable. The trust you showcase in your team, the encouragement you provide them in challenging situations, and the confidence you instill in their expertise is all part of demonstrating how they should feel about themselves and the business as a whole.

Thanks to Greg Gillman, MuteSix!


#19- Focused on social equality

Photo Credit: Kyle Kroeger

For many years I was part of the corporate churn. When the pandemic struck, I was working in sustainable private equity and impact investing and realized there was a significant lack of ‘something' in my life. I went traveling and founded my current company along the way. We collaborate with travelers from all over the globe. As a founder, it is critical for me to ensure that we are focused on social equality, responsibility, combating climate change, and sustainability.

Thanks to Kyle Kroeger, Via Travelers!


#20- Conscious brain

Photo Credit: Monte Deere

If the company is a body, then the CEO is the conscious brain, with the sole responsibility of deciding what’s best for the entire entity. Like a good CEO, a good brain listens to the needs of the body, overseeing its well-being for the best possible performance in its lifetime. While the body keeps the engine of survival running, the brain considers how the entire person can thrive and prosper in the surrounding environment. This responsibility is not something to be taken lightly.

Thanks to Monte Deere, Kizik!


#21- Understanding my customer’s goals

Photo Credit: Kyle Risley

Lift Vault came about as a way to make it easier to organize and store through free weightlifting programs so people could achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. With that origin in mind, I’ve worked to provide more value to my customers so that it’s easier to achieve their goals. As CEO, I see my role as understanding my customer’s goals and continuing to advocate for them as the business grows. That also means setting my company's culture, objectives, and values.

Thanks to Kyle Risley, Lift Vault!


#22- Assisting when and where needed

Photo Credit: Ivan Brozincevic

To me, being a CEO means assisting when and where needed. I believe the CEO’s role is not operational but is much more strategic and that is why the CEO should be felt everywhere in the company. This doesn’t mean snatching autonomy from his peers but creating space for them to perform efficiently. Of course, the CEO can’t help with all activities, as this would prevent him from carrying out his strategic functions satisfactorily, but his assistance is also important so that the team can proceed properly.

Thanks to Ivan Brozincevic, Free Affiliate Marketing Business!


#23- Personal development

Photo Credit: Michael Morris

What being a CEO means to me is much more personal: it's about personal development in a winner-take-all arena. Few ventures in life are dependent on you and only you. You, and who you are—your character, your integrity, and your drive—are the ultimate predictor of whether or not your business will thrive. CEOs often imagine that their destiny is determined by strategy, competition, or technical prowess, and while all those things are important, they are secondary to your strength as a leader.

Thanks to Michael Morris, Rough and Tumble Gentleman!


#24- Being an entire package

Photo Credit: Vance Tran

Being CEO, in my opinion, entails being an entire package. Empathy, rationality, and authority are all qualities that a person who wants to fill the shoes of a successful CEO must possess. It is comparable to being both the captain and sailor of a ship, providing guidance as needed and collaborating with others simultaneously to get the business ship sailing well. Being the CEO is not easy. Although the title may sound admirable, there are drawbacks and benefits.

Thanks to Vance Tran, Pointerclicker!


#25- Feel very responsible

Photo Credit: Ryan Knoll

Being a business owner makes me feel very responsible for the service I provide to the business, driving business profitability, my team members, customer satisfaction, family, etc. Fulfilling this responsibility makes me feel satisfied. Business ownership comes with various responsibilities and duties, and only when you fulfill these can you move ahead. The driving force behind every business owner is a great sense of responsibility.

Thanks to Ryan Knoll, Tidy Casa!


#26- Multiple purposes

Photo Credit: Joshua Rich

First and foremost, we must acknowledge that the profit motive is arguably the most important factor that drives one toward taking the risk of starting a business. Hence, this makes the monetary concern very obvious and that is understandable given that it might well be one's sole source of income and has to be relied upon to pay the bills.  CEOs start business ventures because they want to offer something to the community that impacts lives positively.

Thanks to Joshua Rich, bullseyelocations!


#27- Being proud of something I built

Photo Credit: Tomer David

Being a founder of a business means that I can be proud of something I built from the ground up. There is a certain fulfillment in seeing your own brainchild be appreciated by strangers. When it comes to the actual work, it means learning how to develop your people skills as well. Many are strong in business but lack people skills to be able to have a team to help them reach their goals. This is an area I had a lot of trial and error in until I found a system that works for me and my team.

Thanks to Tomer David, Sourcing Monster!


#28- Captain of my own ship

Photo Credit: Shawna Haider

To me, being a CEO means being the captain of my own ship. I'm responsible for steering the company in the right direction and making sure that we hit our targets. I'm also responsible for making sure that the company is profitable and that we're providing value to our customers. As the CEO, I'm the face of the company and I have to make sure that we're always putting our best foot forward. This is an area I had a lot of trial and error in until I found a system that works for me and my team.

Thanks to Shawna Haider, Lola Collective!


#29- Managing the resources

Photo Credit: André Disselkamp

A lot of things. Besides dreaming about it and talking about it, I would have to say that being a CEO is being in charge, managing the resources of the company, and developing strategy. It's important that CEOs can see the big picture because they should be able to make decisions not just in their department or area of expertise but across the company. It also means setting goals and objectives, making plans, and following through with them. A CEO needs to analyze data and figure out how to get people to work as efficiently as possible.

Thanks to André Disselkamp, Finsurancy!


#30- The most rewarding job on the planet

Photo Credit: Sai Blackbyrn

A lot has been written about how difficult, isolating, and demanding being a CEO is, as well as how short the typical tenure is. All of this is accurate. Even yet, the CEO position remains the greatest in the world. The finest aspect of being the CEO is having the power to alter the corporate culture if you are unhappy with it. You can change something if you believe a vice president is underperforming. A super-talented employee may be promoted if you notice her. You are in control.

Thanks to Sai Blackbyrn, CoachFoundation!


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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