Are you a Founder or a CEO?

You’re a new business owner and probably considering what title to put on that card or that email signature. Granted, business terminologies can be rather confusing especially when one role overlaps the other. So, just what are you? A founder, a CEO or both?

Who is a founder

This is a person who starts or launches a business. They are in charge of the initial idea, whether a product or service. The founder is the person who carries out all the groundwork, which involves:

  • Research
  • Funding
  • Production
  • Distribution

In some businesses, you’ll find more than one founder, known as a co-founder. A founder is also known as an entrepreneur.

Who is a CEO

A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking officer in any company. He/she is tasked with taking the company to the next level.

He works alongside the founder to accomplish long-term goals and oversee the company’s strategic management.

What are the major differences between a founder and a CEO?

Despite both roles being important, a founder and a CEO are not the same thing. A founder creates the business and it’s upon him to hire a CEO.

 Let’s take a look at the difference between the two:

  • A founder is a person who starts the business from the ground up while a CEO is hired to run the day to day running of the business.
  • Another difference is a founder develops the business plan and sets goals, while a CEO is in charge of the talent pool and helps to scale the business.
  • The founder is usually behind the scenes while the CEO acts as the face of the company.
  • A founder maintains a good relationship With the board of directors while the CEO ensures good relationships with stakeholders in general.
  • It’s the work of the founder to manage or provide funding for the business and the work of the CEO to ensure money is well appropriated and used.
  • The vision of the business is determined by the founder and the CEO works to make it a reality.

How to transition from a founder to CEO

At some point in or career, you may need to transition from a founder to a CEO. 

We compiled some tips  to help you transition from a founder to a CEO:

  1. Know what you don’t know and hire people to fill the gaps.
  2. Build your management skills by seeking out feedback.
  3. Leverage your time and delegate
  4. Prioritize both mission and business goals
  5. Don’t stop learning and growing
  6. Adapt to changes 

What are the characteristics of a founder?

  •  Entrepreneurial
  •  Visionary
  • Innovative
  • Has good networking skill
  • Has good leadership skills
  • A natural risk-taker
  • Driven, ambitious and determined

What are the characteristics of a CEO? :

  • Is excellent at team management
  • Has good leadership skills
  • Is flexible and adaptable to the needs of the company
  • Good listener
  • Strong communication skills
  • Willing to learn
  • Confident decision-maker

 For a company to run smoothly a chain of command must be in place This helps in decision making, accountability and overall productivity of the company. Your employees need to know whom they answer to. For a startup, you might be forced to wear different hats in different situations. As the business grows, you’ll realize you can’t do it all and you’ll have to delegate. It’s paramount you understand each role in your business hierarchy.

Sources: Young Mogul, yourstory, huntclub,, startups, ringcentral

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