When founding a startup, you probably imagined a romanticized life of an executive director with frequent business trips, lunches with partners, and motivational speeches to your team.
However, the first months at this position may have shown how wrong you were with your expectations. Being a startup CEO is close to playing in a one-man-band. Not because you are the only employee of your company, but mostly due to a variety of duties none but a startup CEO can cope with.
Who is a CEO?
CEO (not to confuse with SEO) is a Chief Executive Officer – the big boss of the company responsible for all the business. This person is a strategist and a decision maker that has one central objective: to develop a successful business.
Typically, a CEO is seen driving an expensive car heading to the best restaurant in the city to have a meeting with another CEO and discuss potential collaborations. Another “typical” responsibility of an executive director is signing important documents and giving instructions to employees.
Sounds like a picture perfect life, doesn’t it? That is why so many people strive to found their own company, become its CEO and live their dream. However, the reality might be painful. Fast food instead of expensive restaurants, overwhelming multitasking instead of delegating – this is how the life of a startup CEO looks like.
What does a startup CEO do?
On early stages, an executive director does all the job necessary. A title “startup CEO” usually incorporates a recruiter, an accountant, a PR manager, sales and project manager, programmer and test engineer, an office manager, a customer support specialist, etc.
Why does the most important person in a company have to deal with all that? Well, sometimes it’s the lack of resources. But in most cases, it’s a great opportunity to learn how stuff works and have better control over the processes in the future.
The web app development company Clockwise Software shares the insights of what duties a startup CEO has to take over.
CEO and recruiter
Do you know what is the first thing a startup founder does? He starts looking for employees to develop the dream product. It’s not a job you can handle to a recruiter.
On an early stage, it is highly important to get the right people working on your project. And the “right” people are not just estimated by their competences and experience, but mostly by their values and soft skills. And you, as a founder, know exactly what kind people you want to see by your side. That’s why you should be a recruiter for your startup!
Later on, as the company grows, you will have a professional or the whole department to look for talents. But you should never stop taking part in the recruitment itself, especially when it comes to key positions in the company.
CEO and HR manager
Having the right people on board is great, but you have to ensure the right atmosphere among your employees. Regular one-to-one talks help to uncover the needs and motivation of a single employee and ensure that he is passioned about what he does in your startup.
Team-building sessions ensure that all your colleagues are on the same wave, ready to invest their time and efforts for the sake of the same goal – to build a groundbreaking product.
You as a CEO are highly interested in seeing your employees happy and highly motivated.
CEO and office manager
Need to buy some furniture or new devices for your office? You will have to deal with this on your own first. The reason is simple – with your initial budget, you won’t afford to pay to a person who is responsible for making your office a comfortable place. So, get ready for some routine job.
CEO and PR manager
You want your company to be spoken about, don’t you? So, you will have to generate reasons for mentioning the project in the media. Prepare a talk, give an interview, host an event, comment on recent news – and do this from the perspective of a business you are in.
Public relations is about making people speak about your brand. And at early stages, you don’t need to hire a professional just for that. A CEO is the face of a startup. And by showing up on various events you promote your business to the local community.
PR takes time, but it is necessary, otherwise, you will be one of the thousands of startups none has heard about.
CEO and software developer
Even if you are a strong programmer with background in solid projects, working on your own startup you will have to deal with the most primitive and dull tasks ever. Just because all the other employees are busy with solving critical challenges, you are the person who should care about details.
CEO and test engineer
Who should test the developed product? Of course the CEO! You have the best vision of the product and the deep understanding of how it should work. This enables you to find faults where an experienced test engineer wouldn’t even look for them. Also, your obsession with the product future success will turn you into a quality maniac – you will never skip even a minor bug.
However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need a QA engineer. Such a professional should take part in all stages of product development. You can always rely on the experience and thoroughness of a test engineer, but don’t skip on auditing the product according to your vision as well.
CEO and sales manager
None can pitch a product better than a person that invented it. You know all the advantages and can talk for hours about solving the pain of your customer. This makes you a perfect sales manager. Even if you hate sales as such, there’s nothing left but to accept this since CEO must be selling. He constantly sells his ideas to clients, investors, employees, media, etc.
Of course, later you will have a department professionally selling the services your business has to provide. But this won’t work if you personally can not sell.
CEO and customer support manager
The job of customer support manager isn’t appreciated as much as it deserves to. Satisfied customers are the main asset of any business and everyone in the company should be involved in work with existing clients, including the CEO. If you were a customer and received a personalized email from the company’s director saying that he is dealing with your problem, would you appreciate this? For sure.
Also, close communication with customers helps you better understand their needs and habits, and improve your product to offer even better service!
CEO and accountant
At first, there will be no need to hire an accountant for your startup. The money flow isn’t significant and you can cope with the reports by yourself. Along with saving money, you have a clear overview of all the incomes and expenses of the company. This leads you to making smart decisions.
As you see, a startup CEO has dozens of responsibilities and duties. But you should not let this fact stop you from founding your own company. Yes, the life of a CEO isn’t a dream, especially if you are running an early stage startup. At the same time, it is full of adrenalin, networking, and unforgettable experiences.