By: Michael Kaiser-Nyman
Good CEOs are made, not born. But the same can’t always be said for founders.
A founder has a vision and a passion for her product or service, and she can inspire her customers, employees and investors to believe in her idea’s potential. A founder believes so much in her vision that she’ll ride out uncertainty and failure to see her idea succeed.
But these skills don’t always make for a great CEO. In small startups, founders often double as CEOs, at least at first. With the right skills, you may be able to fill both roles, but at some point, you’ll have to figure out if being the founder and the CEO is helping or hurting your company’s growth.
So, how do you know if you can manage both roles? Here are a few questions to help you determine whether you’re a founder and CEO or if you’re better-suited to the role of chief vision officer instead:
1. Are you good with people?
If you’re not a people person, you probably won’t make a good CEO. An effective CEO needs to be able to attract talent and form partnerships. He or she also has to be adept at hiring, firing, delegating, evaluating performance and dealing with company politics. A little charisma can go a long way toward making things run smoothly.
2. Can you look long-term?
CEOs have to keep track of company activities and see the bigger picture. They need to be able to look ahead to where the company is going and anticipate potential problems and opportunities. CEOs have to be more risk-averse than founders because they must focus on running a profitable business, and they have to be willing to stray from the original vision to get there. Founders often have trouble making these kinds of compromises — or seeing beyond their original vision.
3. Do you have the right skills?
If you’re a technical founder of a web startup and aren’t as comfortable with the people side of running a company, you probably should find a co-founder to be CEO. Your time is better spent focused on the evolving product or service needs and execution. On the other hand, if you’re a non-technical founder, you may be able to take the role of CEO and find a technical co-founder. Find someone who has abilities that complement yours.
If you’ve determined that you don’t have the mindset to be the best CEO for your company, look for the aforementioned traits in your company’s new leadership.
Much of your startup’s success or failure will be determined by the people you hire. And finding a good CEO who can attract talent, investors and customers when you’re not up to the task should be your top priority. In the end, the last thing you’ll want is to let your ego get in the way of your company’s success.