This weekend, I spent roughly the entire day going through TED videos of other entrepreneurs sharing their stories of how their roles within their businesses evolved as their businesses grew. This led to my understanding that the job of a founder and the job of a CEO is not necessarily the same. One requires building and the other one requires direction.
A founder is ultimately the visionary; he/she sets the course on how the business should look. I can relate the job of a founder to Apostle Paul in the bible; he probably started close to 20 churches himself, with many more born out of those by his apprentice leaders. In Asia alone the New Testament mentions Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colossae, and Hieropolis (How Many Churches Did the Apostle Paul Start? – ChurchPlanting.com). Apostle Paul started these churches but ultimately did not “run” them – he found and appointed leaders over these churches. In the same way, I believe the function of a founder is to start the businesses and ultimately build a leadership team that will run the day-to-day. The founder thrives on finding new ideas and new business models, not running day-to-day functions.
The CEO is ultimately the strategist – he determines and communicates the organization’s strategic direction. The CEO is also in charge of the company culture; adding up to how things get done at a company and influences the entirety of the employee experience and thus the customer experience. Essentially, the CEO oversees and delivers on the company’s performance according to set goals and vision.
In my opinion, it is very important to understand what your role is (this is aligned to your strengths as an individual). Often entrepreneurs assume the role of CEO automatically when they are actually founders. This is to the detriment of the growth of the business.
I understand that in the beginning, the founder is everything (from marketing to sales to operations to strategist) but as your business grows, you need to take inventory of what your business needs are then look at your strengths versus what is needed. You can own the business but be the IT guy or the admin guy – nothing wrong with this.